Mother’s Day and Other Ridiculously Late Snowstorms

January 29, 2016
Daffodils With Snow

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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

About This Blog

Are you a weather watcher? Welcome to “Weather Whispers” by James Garriss and until recently, Evelyn Browning Garriss. With expertise and humor, this column covers everything weather—from weather forecasts to WHY extreme weather happens to ways that weather affects your life from farming to your grocery bill. Enjoy weather facts, folklore, and fun!

With heavy hearts, we share the news that historical climatologist and immensely entertaining Almanac contributor Evelyn Browning Garriss passed away in late June 2017. Evelyn shared her lifetime of weather knowledge with Almanac editors and readers, explaining weather phenomena in conversation and expounding on topics in articles for the print edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac as well as in these articles. We were honored to know and work with her as her time allowed, which is to say when she was not giving lectures to, writing articles for, and consulting with scientists, academia, investors, and government agencies around the world. She will be greatly missed by the Almanac staff and readers.