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Forecasting Boulder’s Winter: Lenworth’s Chilling Revelation

Boulderites KNOW that only fools and tourists predict Boulder weather. That used to be true. I believe or at least strongly suspect that the extreme weather we’ve been seeing worldwide is the result in most significant part of climate change. Floods, rains, high temps, low temps, snow amounts, glaciers melting, and on and on. Short term or long term the current trend is beyond question getting more extreme.

Our own NCAR and NOAA are at the heart of study of weather and of course more. NO surprise that both are in Boulder.

NCAR is an architectural gem in Boulder, and is featured in Woody Allen’s Sleeper.

And even they struggle with weather predictions. And they predict and are neither fools nor tourists. I feel better already, since I’m predicting our weather for this winter.

In Boulder, we’re used to that. And we’re not. I’m going talk about the City at 5550 ft elevation, and not much about the towns west of Chautauqua.

There is little doubt about whether or not I’m a fool. I’ve been told that I’m a tad ego driven (read the sarcasm in that). My desire to predict the general weather for this winter belies any claims I might make to not being a fool. In other words, I am most certainly a fool. Hearing no argument and no objection, I’ll move right on!

I’m a tourist I suppose. I move to Boulder in 1975, 6 weeks after law school graduation. I’ve only come to Boulder once. I just never left. I became a native after 7 years according to the catalog I came in on.  (college joke which about every Boulderite gets).

Photo Debi Dodge

Niwot’s Curse is alive and well. Pictures of him however are fiction. No pictures of the most famous Boulder-based Indian Chief are known to exist.

I visited Boulder in the summer of 1974, between my second and final year of law school. My dad, finally tired of hearing “I want to live in Boulder,” said bluntly.bluntly and simply the way he was always wont to do, “go now or you’ll never go. Get your law degree. Every day you stay in New Jersey driving a BMW while commuting through traffic from hell will put moving to Boulder farther and farther away, and the longer you stay in NJ, the less chance you’ll ever leave” I believed him. He gave good advice. I was living in Boulder with a U-Haul within six weeks of finishing law school. They had to mail me my diploma!

Here’s the deal in a nutshell. Weather reporting is based upon current conditions in different locations, and historic patterns. “When the map looks like this, 85% of the time it snows right here.” I can still look at a map of fronts and know if and where an upslope snowstorm will hit.

flat ray photography of book, pencil, camera, and with lens

Based upon current conditions like temps everywhere, winds at any altitude, etc., we KNOW what the current state of affairs is.  Based upon patterns. Patterns from the past. Patterns before climate change became a major factor in the weather. The old patterns don’t work anymore.

Lensworth Predicts the Weather:

I predict a long cold snowy winter for the Boulder Valley. I predict that those who are best prepared will be more likely to enjoy the weather than more likely to be harmed by it. Friend Mike taught me, in 1976, when I’d been in Colorado a second or so, that “cold is just a matter of clothing, not temperature.” He has since moved to the tropics!woman wearing bikini standing on rocks facing the sea

I amuse myself probably every storm, summer and winter, by looking outside, looking at the weather maps, the satellite maps, and then because I can, driving my wife Debi nuts listening to my non-stop babble about the weather.

Winters are getting more extreme in the Boulder Valley and surrounds. More snow, more cold, and for more days.

So what does that mean to us?

  • Prepare for no electric
  • Warm Clothing and Blankets: Ensure you have enough warm clothing, including layers, as well as blankets to stay warm if the heating system fails. Sounds easy. As do so many other things of importance
  • no Internet
  • No phone unless you have a jack and an old phone to plug in
  • no pharmacy access, so ensure you have a sufficient supply of prescription medications, glasses, contact lens supplies, and other personal necessities.
  • no ambulance response
  • don’t shovel !!!
  • books games and guitars for when the electric goes out. We light a candle or two and I take out my acoustic!
  • Stay warm. Seriously! If your house has no heat, you may really need to take advantage of a heated shelter. Pride or death? Give me warmth!
  • Water in the bathtubs for a backup water supply. Ice will be easy to come by.
  • Non-Perishable Food and Water Supply. Stock up on canned goods, dried foods, and bottled water. Aim for a supply that can last at least three days.
  • crack the faucets for a little trickle
  • open the cabinets if they’re backing on outside walls
  • keep the water lines from freezing.
  • hopefully your outside hoses are already prepared for winter
  • Leave your car’s windshield wipers UP, not on the window. New blades are EXPENSIVE!!! and needed if the old ones freeze to the windshield and are torn in being unstuck.
  • Also, consider having ice melt or sand for traction. Kitty Litter is amazing, as is a scrap of rug to put under a tire for traction. That way you can go from your parking spot to the impassable roadway.
  • have a pair of charged walkies. I’m not sure how that may help, but it sounds right, and it sounds cool!

  • have flashlights with batteries that you’ve checked in the last 3 months, and spare batteries.
  • Battery-Powered or Hand-Crank Radio: This is crucial for staying updated on weather forecasts and emergency information, especially if the power goes out. Solar rechargeable is common, and these radios are now well under $50
  • GREAT TIP: charge your phones, etc., with your computer battery backup and it’s large battery. Don’t run your computer off it if not necessary.
  • fill propane tanks for the gas grill
  • coal  and wood for the smoker and BBQ for OUTDOOR USE ONLY. f
  • food in the fridge
  • food for the snowbanks for extra freezer space
  • Talk to your neighbors about shared snow blower projects. I take ours, MONGO, for a walk around the sidewalks of our two-block loop of neighbors. Now some of the younger stronger neighbors do the same, and we often wake up, after sleeping-in thanks to the snow, find our walk cleared and not under a foot of snow. Thanks! Neighbors!
  • first aid kits which include super glue!
  • refresh first aid kits
  • shake off the trees during the storm
  • find neighbors with snow blowers and start early and often
  • fire extinguishers in several places inside and out, including near the stove, BBQ, front door, back door, kitchen, bedroom, and fireplace/woodburner.
  • Of course no using generators indoors!! CO Carbon monoxide is not our friend in the house and not a great friend outdoors.
  • Emergency Contact List.  Keep a list of important phone numbers, such as those of family members, close friends, and emergency services
  • proper boots and proper clothes with
    • goggles
    • a substantial knife carried on your belt
    • matches
    • whistle w/ caution, as some are loud enough to cause hearing damage. Remember that while you can blow a whistle for along time, you cannot shout for all that long, and not all that loudly to begin with.
  • no exposed skin. USE a scarf, hat, and sunscreen when it’s time as the clouds break and you venture outside.grayscale photography of four men walking on snow
  • and finally, most important, by the time you finish completing the items on this list, the snow will have ended and it will be spring!
  • Bad news!!! Amazon deliveries, USPS, UPS and FedEx will be impacted and may deliver hours or weeks late! So do what I do: Order early and order often!

Remember March and April, our counter-intuitively snowiest months.

Think about where you want to leave your car. hopefully not on the streets. Plows and sleds and cars will hit it. Have a full gas tank, (generally a great idea) get a big roast beef and a turkey and a pork roast to brine and smoke them together. This works with vegetables also, an canned and frozen might be in season. Cook IN THE YARD, not inside if the normal stove is unpowered or ungassed. Death by carbon monoxide is a very real winter phenomenon.  Large things that require chilling or freezing get stored in the snow.

Stay warm and dry. Enjoy the quiet time. Snow days have been a blessing to children and adults alike since my birth in the last century. Keep them fun! Keep yourself safe. And as always enjoy being in Boulder. What fun is a snowstorm in Boulder if you’re in Costa Rica? Do not answer that question!

stay safe and warm!

Lenny Lensworth Frieling

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