Where’s all the snow, Colorado?

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The birds and the bees, along with ski fans, are asking the same questions regarding this season’s dry spell; however, it seems the bees have more to buzz about then we do.

If you are a native to Colorado, you know how up in the air weather can be around here. One day it’s warm with a light breeze, the next, even warmer, and then you wake up shivering in a tank top and shorts to find its cold because it is snowing outsidehard. Yep, that’s Colorado for you, and the Boulder fashion seems to symbolize the weather – with footwear ranging from warm boots to sandals through October.

Varsity Pond in October of 2011. (James Bradbury/CU Independent file 

 

This season however, seems to be unusually unusual. With only one snow fall that melted soon after it arrived, it doesn’t quite feel like, well, winter.  And though personally, the cold usually makes me burn for summer, I am starting to wonder what’s going on? I’m sure much of Boulder is too, especially those who wait all year to hit the slopes. For the ski bums, I bet the beginning of the season has been downright frustrating.

Though ski resorts are still hopeful for a prosperous Christmas season, they too admit concern, especially “after last season’s hugely disappointing dearth of snow”

Even professional climatologists are unsure about how much snow is forecast to come: “The present conditions of a cold north Pacific and a warm north Atlantic tend to mean a shortage of moisture across the country,” Klaus Wolter, a research associate with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.  This weather is problematic for everyone, and the warm effects are starting to cause even bigger problems then winter sports for some small non-Homo sapien species.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, certain species show signs of confusion and behavioral changes due to early snowmelts that may negatively affect the success of future populations. Some of the affected species are certain birds, bees and butterflies.

(CU Independent Illustration/Josh Shettler)

“The last snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains sets the clock for the rest of the season, determining when flowers will bloom and when animals will emerge from hibernation,” David Inouye, a researcher at the University of Maryland, said.

Pre-mature melting means flowers think it is time to bloom way too early.  And because of this bad timing, the flowers open just in time to shrivel with the arrival of a cold, frosty day. These overexposures to cold (something flowering plants are not designed to cope with) cause death with no hopes for re-blooming. So, once the bees and hummingbirds finally arrive on time (having not gotten the memo about early blooming) they find their food resources of pollen and nectar greatly diminished. Butterflies, especially the Mormon fritillaries, are also experiencing this problem, and their populations in the Rocky Mountain are swiftly declining.

These too-warm-of-weather patterns do more than just mess up the ski season– they mess up patterns of life which have been hard-wired into these animals for generations. So the next time your complaining about the lack of snow, you should remind yourself that at least you’re not a bee with a melt-able future.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Katrina Winograd at Katrina.winograd@colorado.edu

Kitty Winograd

Kitty is a senior at CU majoring in English and minoring in Ebio. Kitty loves baking, reading literature (assigned or not) and looks forward to watching Boulder Creek change colors every year. Upon graduation, she hopes to continue happily writing on issues that concern and interest her, especially those centered around the natural world and humankind's interaction with it. As a side note, Kitty is an identical twin, and both can often be seen on campus. Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Kitty Winograd at katrina.winograd@colorado.edu.

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