In the half-hour I have been vertical and looking out windows, this is what I’ve seen: the sun was shining; it started snaining; the wind blew; it started snowing; a short but fierce blizzard-y squall; snain; and now we have this fine little mist of snow as the sun tries forcing its way past the clouds once again. The accumulated snow, which started last night, is perhaps two inches.
Since I met Kara’s husband, I have taken a more commercial view of snow. For him it’s a commodity: he pushes it around to make his living for half of each year. Before I’d ever given the place a real thought, he had the contract to plow the private roads out here at Riverwalk, and now he has added our prolonged driveway system to his list of obligations.
He has several other clients, and he very generously added Pat’s Screen Printing with its collection of corner-lot sidewalks to his morning route. Here’s the kicker, though: he never knows when he’s going to be put to work.
He checks forecasts, and when bad weather is predicted, he goes to bed very early so that he can be out at places like Riverwalk at 3 or 4 a.m., so that people like Lynn, who leave for work at 5:45, can do so on clear roads. But sometimes, like this weekend, he is going to bed and getting up early for no real need.
I’m sure some customers will put him to work this morning, but not Riverwalk, where we have a three-inch requirement before Geoff is summoned. And here’s the real kicker this particular weekend: he and Kara had planned to spend it with his parents, brothers and other relatives for a family Christmas.
But no. It was supposed to start snowing yesterday and not stop until sometime late Sunday. (The Pineapple Express coming clear from Hawaii, I was told, several times over the course of several days.) Deposits to be measured in feet, not inches. Winter storm watches. Winter storm warnings. Travel to be very hazardous. Money to be made for those who move snow around.
However, I have noticed that every time the Denver weathermen (and they are all men) make all these dire predictions, they have a large glob of purple (sometimes blue) that extends from the north edge of the state down to perhaps Crested Butte, and then a patch of pink rising up from the south to stop around Lake City. Leaving Gunnison in this uncolored little band. No watch, no warning, no feet of snow.
By Thursday the Weather Channel local feed was giving me a 60 percent chance of less than one inch on any given day of the weekend. Wunderground, which appears to have a station out here in Riverwalk, had us at 90 percent chance of snow. Wunderground has also gone from its routine “1-3 inches” to forecasting decidedly specific amounts: 2.6 inches.
Yesterday Wunderground’s hourly prediction called for non-stop snow all day today. Now it’s calling for a clear morning (which hasn’t happened, except for now — still no sun) and some random snow showers this afternoon. But it’s looking like Geoff is not going to be putting in one of his unenviable 16-18-hour workdays, and it’s also looking like he and Kara could perhaps have gone for family Christmas after all.
That’s the worst of it. If you have to tell your family you’re not coming because you have to work, you should at least get the work. Other places did get snow, and perhaps travel would have been hazardous, although my sister Tia left Gunnison yesterday afternoon and was home in Arvada within a reasonable time frame despite encountering snow on Monarch Pass and in South Park.
[Every time the sky turns light as the sun pokes through, this misting snow starts up again.]
The local newspaper detailed a more hazardous trip for two local couples over Thanksgiving, when both were independently trapped in South Park and ended up getting rescue escorts into Fairplay, where they and 250 of their new closest friends spent the night in the high school gym. One couple had backed into a ranch road and was prepared to spend the night in their car, with sleeping bags, lanterns and everything else they’d need; the other couple got blown clear across the highway and spent six involuntary hours in a drift before Park County did the search and came to the rescue.
Those are the stories that make me not enthused about winter travel anymore, and I don’t think that Kara, with her large menagerie of animals including special needs cat, duck and chicken, was too sad about not having to travel across the state this snowy — or not — weekend.
But it would be nice for Geoff if this promised massive storm would show up in at least a plowable fashion. Maybe we’ll still get there, one powdery little drib at a time. It seems the least Santa could do, after wrecking family Christmas with big promises but little follow-through.