Patches of snow may cover the ground and the ponds may be frozen over but it feels like early autumn along the Colorado Front Range today. After a few weeks of wintry weather, autumn has returned, courtesy of downsloping, southwest winds.
Our afternoon high in Littleton is approaching 70 degrees F, some 25 degrees above normal for the date. But winter "normals" along the Front Range urban corridor are merely numerical averages and it is not unusual to experience temperature swings of forty degrees or more in the course of 24 hours. Indeed, periods of warm winter weather are rather common in this region and often follow an outbreak of Arctic air; in other cases, the warmth portends a coming change as southwesterly winds intensify ahead of an approaching cold front.
Such is the case this week. While we bid adieu to 2016 amidst sunny, autumn-like weather, 2017 will be ushered in by the next winter storm. Within a few days, snow will return to the Front Range, afternoon highs may not reach 20 degrees F and overnight lows will plummet to zero or below. For now, I'll head back outside in my T-shirt and jeans to enjoy the autumn reprieve.