Last week the Wet Mountain Valley experienced exceedingly frigid temperatures. Scuttling from building to building to flee the cold, people remarked on the bone-biting winds and the bitter below-zero nights.
For a few days, a freezing fog moved in, glazing the trees, fences and vehicles with a dense frost. A little over an inch of snow also fell -- snow so cold it turned to hard crust and squeaked when boots walked on it.
During this arctic blast, one often heard statements like, “It doesn’t get this cold in December,” or “this cold is like a January or February cold.”
However, according to official weather observer John Piquette, Westcliffe experienced a similar glacial cold in December of 2012.
This year, the low in the first part of December was -17 degrees, which occurred on the night of December 7. Another frigid low occurred on December 5 at -3 degrees. Residents saw one balmy night on December 3 when the temperature rose to 28 degrees.
Piquette points out that last year in Westcliffe the lowest temperature in the twelfth month of 2012 was -18 degrees, which transpired on December 10. The next day, the 11th, the temperature increased to -10.
Clearly, cold does arrive in December, though it seems November of 2013 offered more snow…it certainly snowed much more last month than it did in November a year ago.
This year, the snow in November surprised us with its volume. Four inches of snow drifted down on November 5. Another 11.5 inches fell on the 22nd, two inches on the 23rd, three inches on the 24th and seven on the 25th. This total of 27.5 inches compares to last year when, in November of 2012, only 3/10 of an inch trickled down.
This year, on Dec 1, a brisk wind clocked at 40 mph blew the November snow into prodigious drifts. So that 27.5 inches became rearranged into what seemed like several feet of snow. People certainly got their vehicles stuck in it.
The first snow in December of 2012 came on the 9th when Westcliffe received four inches. That was followed by one inch on the 14th, nine inches on the 19th and one inch on the 31st. That totals to 15 inches.
This snowfall seems quite wimpy compared to past years. For instance on December 4 in 1913, 12.50 inches fell in one day.
This year, on December 4, only 1.4 inches of the white stuff fell. Now, halfway through December, will we see more white stuff? Piquette predicts that snow might fall for the holidays. “Let’s expect a white Christmas,” he says.
– Cyn Williams