There is a saying about Colorado: no matter what time of year it is, and no matter what the weather is like, you can be sure that it is very unusual weather for that time of year! The saying may be tongue-in-cheek, but it is based in fact. Colorado has some of the most unpredictable weather in the nation. In general, though, these rules of thumb usually hold:
- Thunderstorms are expected in the mountains every summer afternoon and on the plains every summer evening. The storms on the plains can spawn tornados.
- Except in late summer, if it's raining on the plains or in the foothills, it's probably snowing higher up.
- Blizzards can occur at any time, at any elevation, from at least October to May.
- The Front Range and the eastern plains usually do not retain snow cover for longer than a few consecutive days in the winter.
- The coldest places in Colorado are not so much the mountains as the mountain parks.
So what does this mean for the visiting birder?
- Check those weather forecasts carefully.
- Bring many layers of clothing in case of rapid temperature swings.
- Never go into the field without raingear handy.
- If driving in the state during blizzard season, carry a blizzard kit in your car, with matches, blankets, extra food and fuel, a shovel and flares.