Colorado Springs Winters – Mild or Wild?

Colorado Springs Winter WeatherWhen people consider moving to Colorado Springs from other parts of the country, I get a lot of questions about our weather, specifically about the severity of our winters. Since a major winter storm is scheduled to hit this weekend, I thought it would appropriate to share a few insights.

First of all, I was born and grew up in Michigan, I spent almost 15 years of my life in California, and I traveled fairly extensively. Therefore, I am a bit familiar with winter outside of Colorado.  I have also lived for over 20 years right here in the Springs, so below is my summary of how winters are here.  (A good resource for historical numbers and trends can be found from Weather Underground, here.)

  1. Colorado winters along the Front Range are not the same as they are at the mountain ski resorts. That means we can have mild, sunny days (50’s) in Colorado Springs while it is snowing hard a mere 2 hour drive away.
  2. To emphasize those mild, sunny days I just mentioned above, they are not unusual.  We get quite a few warms days in the winter.  We were actually in the 60’s just last week.  Yet, we also get some really cold snaps with the chance of sub-zero nights.  These cold snaps, though, just don’t last too long.  When it IS warm, we often get some wind with it.
  3. Winter is actually our driest season. Most of our snow comes in the spring (March / April) or fall (October). We still get snow in the middle of winter, but we are more apt to see minor snow falls with cold temps for a few days rather than any big individual storms. Our minor mid-winter snows tend to be quite dry snow and our big spring storms tend to be heavy and wet.
  4. Whether the wet storms of fall or spring, or the drier storms of winter, they do not continue for days leading to a prolonged grey season. There tend to be snow days that will cause schools to start late on 2 – 6 inches of snow, but the sun is usually shining again by the time school starts, and the roads are dry within a day or 2. Full school closures don’t happen that often, despite the fervent prayers of students and teachers!
  5. Weather forecasts tend to be pretty inaccurate. Not that storms are not seen ahead of time, but the intensity can be plus or minus 100% many times, so that a 6 inch forecast can be 0 to 12 inches in reality.
  6. No two winters are really alike. Some years are better for golfing than skiing. Some years the schools run out of snow days (they usually allow for 5). Some years they don’t use any.

Colorado winters are a bit like Colorado summers. You bring layers to take off or add depending on changing conditions. You assume when the sun sets, it will always be chilly. And you bring a curious attitude, because Colorado weather is ALWAYS interesting!

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