Thursday, May 19, 2022: The temperature climbs to 89 degrees F (31.6⁰ C), tying a previous record-high.
A comparatively cool Friday follows with highs in the low 50s (10-12⁰ C), bringing much-needed and much-appreciated moisture falling as drizzle out of the sky most of the day, helping to mitigate our drought conditions, if only temporarily.
When I get up on Saturday, May 21, the above is the view of our back yard that presents itself from the deck—about 1 foot (30 cm) of wet, heavy snow. One foot of snow covering the iris and columbine and lupines in full bloom only yesterday. Varying amounts of snow coating all horizontal and even vertical surfaces, enveloping the power lines, weighing down every single plant.
As I’m stomping through the yard in my Sorel boots to put out the feeders for the birds, who are as freaked out by the weather as I am and are practicing compensatory hyperphagia (if they can, insectivores are in real trouble during these days-spanning cold spells), I hear branches snapping off neighborhood trees, a sound that repeats itself throughout the day, across the entire city. Countless trees, weakened by decades of drought and a spring of infernal winds are not equipped to withstand the weight of a frozen sleeve of water topped by ponderous piles of snow and lose limbs, if not their lives.
The mountain ash in in our yard, laboriously planted 10 years ago and lovingly tended in the interim has its crown snapped like a matchstick after looking healthy and strong only the day before (how I wish I had taken a photo then). We are sad but cautiously hopeful that it will be able to repair itself and continue to grow. Compared to the damage I have since observed all over town, which is littered with twigs, branches, and trunks, I’m grateful that we didn’t lose more plants—or power, like thousands of Colorado Springs residents.
While late snowstorms in this region aren’t unheard of, similarly extreme and destructive weather events are predicted to occur more often and in more locations all across our spinning globe. My head is spinning, too, after this wild and worrisome whiplash. Maybe it has never been different, but it seems that everything these days is two-edged, and that there are only mixed blessings.