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Snowy November in Colorado

Snowy November in Colorado

“If you don’t like Colorado weather,” so the saying goes, “just wait a minute.” Coloradoans had to wait more than a minute, but they did see big changes in the first two weeks of November 2005. After several days with highs of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, Denver’s temperatures plummeted. Changes were more dramatic in the nearby mountains where heavy snow fell.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) flying onboard the Terra satellite captured these images on November 15 (top) and November 1 (bottom). On November 1, snow cover remained sparse, but by the middle of the month, snow covered much of the Continental Divide. The sheet of white spread over mountains and spilled out onto the plains to the east. Some clouds obscure the mountains in the November 15 image, but snow cover can still be discerned as it outlines the underlying mountain peaks.

The heavy snowfall was a mixed blessing for Colorado residents, who depend on snowpack for water. According to news reports, a weekend snowstorm on November 12-13, 2005, dropped two feet of snow on ski resorts, and a fresh storm on November 14 added another foot of snow. Good news for ski resorts and skiers turned out to be bad news for travelers and many residents. Poor visibility, numerous accidents, and abandoned cars prompted the Colorado Department of Transportation to temporarily close a 70-mile stretch of Interstate 70, the state’s biggest east-west highway. Downed tree limbs knocked out power lines for as many as 8,000 mountain residents.

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC. The MODIS Rapid Response Team provides daily images of Colorado.