Searching the sky 
for white gold

A welcome sight returned to Colorado this week — snow on the mountain peaks and on plateaus such as Grand Mesa.

The good news is that snow is supposed to continue to fall at least through this morning across much of Colorado — although the heaviest snowfall — up to 4 inches — may be on the Front Range.

The bad news is that there are few predictions for a massive dump of white powder in Colorado this winter.

The coming winter is not forecast to be as disastrous as last winter’s snow drought, according to the three-month forecast on the National Weather Service’s website. It’s more likely to be close to the 30-year average for both temperature and precipitation.

But the El Niño weather pattern that was expected to form in the Pacific Ocean this year — and bring above-average precipitation to Colorado — hasn’t materialized yet, experts say.

There are, however, contradictory forecasts.

The Farmers’ Almanac predicts a cold, wet winter for the eastern half of the United States, but a relatively mild one for the western half.

Meanwhile, local observations of woolly bear caterpillars — long believed to predict the severity of the winter based on the width of their brown stripes, according to folklore — seem to suggest a harsh winter here.

So, pick whichever forecast you prefer. Or, if you’re so inclined, ask for help from the Norse god and goddess Ullr and Skadi, who are associated with skiing and snow.

Or simply hope that Mother Nature will give us a reprieve from the drought we’ve experienced over the past year, and much longer if you look beyond the heavy snow winter of 2010-2011.

We need mountains of white gold for the skiers this winter and for water users next summer.


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