From a dusting of snow in Hopiland northward into a slow-moving blizzard in Colorado and the eastern Plains, a record-breaking storm is delaying travel, causing abundant fender-benders, and amazing those who thought recent spring-like weather would continue through February.
Punxsutawney Phil, the prognosticating groundhog who predicted six more weeks of winter, outdid other groundhogs who foresaw an early spring, at least in Colorado’s capital.
Denver had accumulated about 1 foot of snow by midday Friday, when schools, businesses and government offices were closed, ski resorts rejoiced and ecstatic students took to sleds and snowboards to celebrate the fluffy white stuff.
Snow totals in the city were at least double along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. The forecast called for snow Saturday tapering off slowly and ending in a sunny Super Bowl day.
In the meantime, however, Mother Nature’s surprise blizzard caused long lines at grocery stores, gas stations, and everywhere else people thought they had to be for survival even though most could have weathered a two-day inconvenience readily in a region known for weather extremes.
The only real hazard seemed to be the rigors of shoveling sidewalks and driveways and avoiding the inevitable fender-benders, although mountain travel into Denver lived up to the dangers associated with the weather warning issued in the area until late Friday. More than a hundred flights were canceled at Denver International Airport.
Denver had its full contingent of 68 large snow plows on the streets throughout the night after snow began falling late Thursday and the city planned to also plow side streets at least once, according to The Denver Post.
The city could break a century-old record for the heaviest snowfall in February from a single storm if snow continues to pile up through Saturday. The record of slightly more than 14 inches was set in 1912.
From snowstorms in midwinter to extreme bouts of hail in midsummer, the Denver area embodies the old saw that “If you don’t like the weather today, wait until tomorrow” as an apt description of its changeable climate.