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High Points: Unprecedented

Paul E. Anna
High Points
Snow covers the ground near a pond on Red Mountain in Aspen on Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

It wasn’t just that it snowed in September. It wasn’t even how much that it snowed. It was the ferocity of the storm that made it so unique. To awaken on Sept. 9 and find that all of our four ski hills were covered in snow? Top to bottom, cover the runs and coat the base areas in ice kind of snow? Well, that is positively unprecedented.

Unprecedented is a word that has been bandied about a lot in this unprecedented year. But to have snow stick to the lawn and cover the cars and just a day after Labor Day certainly meets the definition. I don’t know of anyone in this town who has seen this kind of white-age this time of year before. But it was not enough to deter the kids at Aspen Elementary who started their 2020 in a blizzard.

We went from what looked like an apocalyptic day, with yellow skies and limited visibility on Monday to a Tuesday afternoon that launched a full-on snowstorm with howling winds, blowing snow and temps in the low 30s.

And we didn’t even get the best of it. South of us, in Alamosa, they got over a foot. Crested Butte called it ten. And the foothills around Denver got dumped on as the plow trucks were called out of their summer mothballs to clear the roads and drop the mag chloride that they had left over from last winter.

It was the earliest snow in Denver since 1962 and they had record high temperatures hitting 101° just two days before. The heavy snow dropped tree limbs and power lines throughout the area. A highlight was that the snow helped firefighters knock down some of the fires that have been burning for weeks in the high country.

We didn’t reach triple digits this weekend but we were sweltering under record–breaking high temperatures in the upper 80s as recently as this past weekend. That just makes the anomaly of having a full-on snow day even more, I’ll say it again, unprecedented.

Now the pictures of this snowstorm will go national, even global, of course, and in any other year that would mean the reservation lines would heat up with winter skiers who, bit by the bug, would be booking holidays. But this year, well we shall just have to see what impacts an early season snowstorm has on bookings. We are living in a new age.

A new age where the previous seasonal weather rules don’t seem to apply like they once did. Remember last week when the tops of the mountains got a frosting on September 1 and we were all so amazed? And then back to summer.

The old adage “if you don’t like the weather wait 10 minutes and it will change” never seemed so true. Even unprecedented.


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