This is an essay that I had published in the local newspaper (Silverton Standard & Miner) yesterday. I like giving the occasional essay to the newspaper for publication since it’s fun. All and all though, the only reason I do it is for exposure purposes. Someone once asked me how much the editor of the paper pays me for these essays. My reply, “About the same amount of money as in the Bhutanese Naval budget.”
Word Count: 815
It hardly seems possible that almost two years have passed since we experienced the schizophrenic shift in the weather patterns here in the Four Corners. First, the winter of 2017-18 where the lack of moisture resulted in the fires of the following summer. That season seems like it happened in the long distant past, rather than a short 730 days ago.
Then the winter of 2018-19 which had us living through the most epic of winters (at least from this skier’s perspective). Snow storms every two or three days from early February straight up until mid-April, and snow in such prolific amounts that it almost seemed like it wasn’t ever going to stop. At least up until the end in March since I was a first-hand witness. My friends tell me it continued into April, but I wouldn’t know. I was gallivanting on the other side of the globe at the time.
Here’s the really weird thing about the whole situation. Even though it wouldn’t bother me if Silverton winters like 2018-19 happened every year, I’d actually prefer that we have something in the middle in terms of moisture. I’m sure some of my ski buddies would consider that last statement by me to be the committing of a heinous crime against humanity, but hear me out on this one, sports-fans.
I’m a big proponent of the Hardrock 100, ultra-endurance race in mid-July. I’ve worked the Aid station over in Telluride for over twenty years, and it’s been proven time and again that the race acts as a huge boost to the summer economy of Silverton. A lot of the runners come to this town to acclimatize to the altitude at least a month before the race. Their friends and family come here for a week leading up to the race, and the race itself has gained a reputation that precedes it, and has spread to all parts of world. It would be an understatement of the grossest sort to say that it’s been a real boon to the reputation and local economy of this town.
The storms of winter 2018-19 left so much snow in the upper basins here in the San Juan’s that it was pretty much of a foregone conclusion when the 2019 edition of the Hardrock 100 was canceled. Most of the runners doing the 2019 race could probably cross those snowfields, but only if they would be allowed to strap on jet propulsion packs to get them over the passes, and through those creeks. Costbeing just one limiting factor in the institution of this race strategy.
I felt a bit cheated when all was said and done. Here we’ve got something I look forward to every year, but too much moisture the previous winter put a grinding halt to the whole thing happening. In this particular situation, too much of a good thing can actually be a detriment?
Then we’ve got the anxiety factor to consider. Here’s what that happens to be. From the moment I returned to the states, right up until late June, a lot of people told me they were worried about all that snow melting too fast. The rivers could reach a record level of run-off, and the Animas in particular would wash major portions of the railroad tracks downstream.
Did this happen? Fortunately, and thankfully no. Maybe that was because the ambient temperatures were cooler, and more gradual than expected. This, as well as a few other shifts in weather patterns kept the runoff down, and rivers didn’t exceed their banks like cavity formation for a kid whose major food group happens to be cake and pies.
The 2019 summer monsoons were actually pretty dismal too. We did get some rain, but it wasn’t in substantial amounts, and some people tell me the wildflowers were pretty good basically because the warmer temperature did happen, but took place later in the season than they have in the past.
What can we expect of the moisture levels for winter 2019-20? That’s a good question, and if I had the answer to that one I wouldn’t be writing the tail end of this article as a pseudo weather prognosticator.
Actually, that’s got to be an oxymoron? Isn’t a weather prognosticator sort of like jumbo shrimp, or sugar-free ice cream? Basically, the identical twin of a weather forecaster, right? The only people I know of who happen to get it wrong over 70% of the time, but experts who still happen to be in business?
All I do know is that I’m in the process of buying my week-day pass at Purgatoryski resort for winter 2019-20, so we’d better get at least some snow. Not an utter moisture disaster like winter 2017-18, but then again, not too much either. Am I being too picky about this? Probably.