Monday, October 9, 2017

An Upslope Sea

As I flew into Denver this morning, a sea of whitecaps stretched above Northeastern Colorado, lapping against the high wall of the Front Range to the west; lit from above by bright sunshine and a dome of brilliant blue sky, the white sea hid the High Plains below.  On our final descent, we entered its dense mist, flying through a milk-white atmosphere for almost twenty minutes before dipping below its undersurface a hundred feet above the ground; there we encountered heavy, wet snow and a wintry landscape.

On the heels of a sunny, warm weekend, a cold front dipped across Northeastern Colorado last night.  Behind that front, cold, Canadian air swept Great Plains moisture toward the Front Range; as that moist air was forced to rise by the landscape, it was chilled below its dew point and several inches of snow fell along the urban corridor.

While many Front Range residents are familiar with upslope snowstorms, which are especially common in March and April, relatively few get to witness their dynamics from above, whether from the high peaks of the Front Range or from an aircraft.  Indeed, the opportunity to fly greatly expands both our appreciation of landscapes and our understanding of the weather systems that mold them.