On the Hill: Make it snow
Last winter, On the Hill had a nearly surefire method of predicting when big snowstorms would hit.It was called “Bad for Steve, good for us,” and was based on the premise that whenever Steve, a Times staffer, couldn’t ski, it would dump. Remember that early January monster that gave us the best day of the year, Super Tuesday? We got that because Steve broke his ankle a short time before.Now, a few people around here have been fretting about the dearth of snow less than two weeks before opening day, but On the Hill’s not one of them. Happily (but sadly), Steve’s nowhere near Colorado, having moved up to Sun Valley, Idaho, over the summer. So we’re guaranteed all the snow we’ve been dreaming of.But just in case it doesn’t work out that way, there’s a backup plan. It’s called “Tim drives.”By some undocumented natural phenomenon, it dumps any time I plan to drive to Denver or Jackson, Wyo., between October and March.I first witnessed this atmospheric wonder almost a year ago when I moved to Aspen. It was Thanksgiving weekend and I was about to return a rented moving van to Denver when a huge storm passed through, dropped a load and caused a rock slide that closed Interstate 70.From then on, just about any time I’d plan a trip to Denver or Jackson, it would snow, and make the trip in my VW that much more exciting.It started early this year. I’ve gone to Jackson once since the beginning of October. It snowed. I’ve been to Denver once. It snowed. A few miles out of Jackson, on the first snowy roads this year, I ran my car off the road and got stuck in the middle of nowhere for about an hour, cussing my old tires.I’d planned to get new tires since, but hadn’t by last weekend, and paid for it on Vail Pass when it snowed again and the treads (or lack thereof) lost all grip, bringing the car to a stop. It took nearly an hour to summit the pass, slipping, spinning and cursing the whole way.I was comforted only by the knowledge that I can make it snow whenever I wish. Despite the high gas prices, I think I’ll be driving a lot this winter.
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Colorado’s Western Slope is considered a climate hot spot where temperatures are increasing faster than the global average. This warming has contributed to more than 20 years of dryness, which scientists are calling a megadrought.