Being stuck who knows where on the trajectory of the decades-long mega-drought that has been haunting the American West since the year 2000, precipitation in any form is welcome.
Living in Colorado, in winter one has the not unreasonable expectation or hope for this precipitation to assume the form of snow. However, as I have pointed out before, the state is not one monolithic landscape and ecosystem, but several. And although many of out-of-staters think of big mountains and winter wonderlands when they hear the name Colorado, well over half of the state stretches out east of the Rocky Mountains and is composed of shortgrass prairie, where January tends to be a relatively dry month, even without drought conditions.
Knowing those facts, one can nevertheless be disappointed when winter doesn’t make at least a few appearances. In El Paso County, where we reside, December was the 9th driest on record, and January, no less disappointing, only brought about a quarter of its expected snowfall. At our house, we had exactly two events that left us with measurable snow: the first on New Year’s Day, when my husband shoveled about 3.5 inches; and the second on January 27, when a mere inch barely managed to cover the ground. According to Colorado’s weekly Drought Monitor map dated 01/27/2022, nearly 85% of our county is in a severe drought. While 100% of Colorado is abnormally dry, thanks to this winter’s above-average snowfall in mountainous areas west of here, “only” 66% of the state suffers from severe, and “only” 20% from extreme drought, an improvement from earlier statistics.
Whereas snowflakes proved to be scarce and short-lived, January’s chill nonetheless enabled Artist Winter to become creative with brush and sculpture tools, which, in turn, enabled me to capture some of the picturesque moments the waning month held in store.
When starting to prepare for this post, I didn’t know about the predicted blizzard which has, by now, descended on the East Coast. So while some parts of the country yearn for snow, others might have had more than they wanted. As if we needed a reminder of last year’s horrendous weather event in Texas.
If you were in the path of this most recent winter storm, I hope you and your loved ones are safe.