Mother’s Day is supposed to the perfect time for flowers and family outings! Except this year, moms in Denver would have preferred mittens.
As the day drew to a close, a storm threatened to drop 3 to 4 inches of snow on the city. At that, city dwellers were getting off easy. Winter storm Zephyr dumped a foot of snow at higher elevations and some areas in Wyoming were hammered with three feet of snow! (By the way, a zephyr is actually gentle western breeze—not a storm!)
Mother’s Day brought a real surprise to Colorado! Source: NOAA
Mother’s Day snowstorms are not that unusual for Colorado. May snowstorms occurred in six of the last ten years. Nevada, Wyoming and Montana have had snowstorms as late as June. And that’s only since we have officially been keeping records.
In the Little Ice Age, conditions were ridiculously cold. During one of those years, 1816, “The Year Without a Summer”, it snowed throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic states in June. (Almost no crops ripened in New England and thousands of people were ruined and forced to move from New England to the Midwest.) In another year, 1859, Bradford County, Pennsylvania recorded a snowstorm on the Fourth of July!
In 1816, the “Year without a Summer”, June snowfall and summer frosts drove thousands of people out of New England to the warmer Midwest.
So, it may be May, but some parts of the country seemed to have decided to skip springtime and have two winters. If you are lucky, your April showers are over and you are wallowing in May flowers. But remember—if you are looking for flowers in the Northern Rocky Mountains this year, you might want to bring some skis. If there is going to be some ridiculous snow, you might as well enjoy it!
If you are looking for flowers in the Northern Rocky Mountains this year, you might want to bring skis. Source: National Science Foundation
Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, is a longtime writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac. She is also editor of The Browning World Climate Bulletin  and has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.