The Flatirons in Winter II

The Flatirons in Winter II, Boulder Mountain Parks, Colorado

In winter, the foothills above Boulder are one of the windiest places in Colorado. Most winter snowstorms blow in from the west with such strong winds that the snow is scoured off every west-facing slope. Trees are usually stripped bare of snow, at least in their upper branches. The result is a landscape that is often more foreboding than beautiful. Every now and then, however, the wind switches direction. In an “upslope” snowstorm, the wind blows in gently from the east, bringing with it abundant snowfall that creates a winter wonderland, with every flank of the Flatirons frosted and every tree limb laden with as much snow as it can carry. These winter wonderlands survive for only a few hours after the sun comes back out. Then the prevailing westerly winds reestablish themselves. The warmth of the sun and the renewed strength of the wind quickly combine to reduce an extraordinary winter scene to an ordinary one, and the magic is over until the next upslope storm gracefully transforms the landscape once more.