The Centennial Soapbox

Nothing Better to Do

I often laugh at the response that I get when I tell people that I'm from Colorado. The typical response is either, "That's too cold for me," or, "There's too much snow there." The stigma is that we have terrible winters, and that you almost have to be an eskimo to live here. I only laugh because those are notions that are patently false. By and large, we have a very warm state, and Ft. Collins, where I'm from, averages over 300 days of sunshine every year, as does most of the state. Most people confuse "Colorado" with the "Rocky Mountains".

Our state has four very distinctly different areas - the Western Slope, the Rocky Mountains, the Front Range, and the Eastern Plains. The Front Range and the Eastern Plains lie, naturally, to the east of the mountains. Much of this area, I'm told, is actually classified as "desert". I happen to live in the Front Range, or within 30-40 miles to the east of the mountains (Ft. Collins is actually the closest city to the mountains in Northern Colorado). We typically get fewer than 20 inches of precipitation in a year, and the Eastern Plains receive far less, with most of it coming in the spring. The Western Slope receives a little more, most of it in the form of snow. Most of our moisture falls in the mountains, which act as a natural barrier for any inclement weather, as the higher elevations and dramatic changes in elevation can cause steep drops in barometric pressure, causing rain or snow to fall. (Don't ask me why I know this, because I have no idea, but 29.82, I'm told, is considered "baseline" barometric pressure. When pressure drops below that level, that's when you can expect precipitation.)

The point of my rambling is this - don't be afraid to come to Colorado in the winter. Most areas of the state don't receive much snow in the winter. It can get cold, but the temperature rarely falls below 10 degrees, and it won't stay under 30 degrees for more than a week or two. There's an old saying in our great state that goes like this - April showers bring May blizzards. I've never actually seen a blizzard in May, but you are more likely to see inclement weather in the spring or summer than you are in the winter in Colorado. I have actually seen snow in the mountains on the 4th of July.

Three years ago, we did have a blizzard hit one day before winter started, which brought nearly four feet of snow in one day. I have only seen three other blizzards, and they all came in the spring. Spring storms are far worse than winter storms (actually, a snowstorm at any time is called a "winter storm" for some unknown reason) because the snow is really wet in the spring. Typically in the winter, there isn't much moisture in the snow. It's mainly just powder because it is colder. The third of those three blizzards occured today, though it wasn't that bad. We actually only received about 10 inches of snow, but the wind is what makes a blizzard bad (By the way, there is nothing more miserable than a blizzard. I told you the story last summer of the F-4 tornado that came through our area. I've been through a flood in 1997. Blizzards are the by far the worst while they are going on. They don't typically cause as much damage, but you simply can't do anything in a blizzard.)

To qualify as a blizzard, I'm told, the temperature has to be below 30 degrees, and sustained winds have to be in excess of 20 MPH, though they are often much higher than that. Snow is obviously necessary. You typically can't see very far in front of you due to the blowing snow, and it can be difficult to walk due to drifting snow and wind. Driving is generally out of the question. We call these "white out" conditions.

You may be wondering what the purpose of this blog is by this point. Look at the title again - I told you that I am a wealth of information, didn't I? The university closed at 12 PM MST today, and I haven't had anything better to do all day, so I thought that I'd share my blizzard information with you, just in case you had ever wondered. Here are a few other pieces of random information for your enjoyment.

Quote of the Day

Dr. Bernard Rollin, University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University 

One of my classes at Colorado State University is PHIL 305E, which doesn't really seem like a typical class that an ag kid would take if you don't know what it is. The course title is Philisophical Issues in Animal Sciences. The premise of the course, taught in conjunction with the departments of Philosophy and Animal Sciences, is animal welfare, and it is taught by a world leader in animal welfare issues, Dr. Bernard Rollin. He's even famous enough to have his own Wikipedia page. "Bernie" is a Jewish man of about 5'6" from Brooklyn, NY, and, aside from his long beard, he's not your typical philosopher. The above image is a picture of Bernie. He cusses as much as anyone that I've ever met, he's an avid weightlifter, and he rides a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He also holds the simultaneous titles of University Distinguished Professor, Professor of Philosophy, Professor of Animal Sciences, and University Bioethicist. Today in class (this was obviously before the university closed for the day), he was talking about a man that he doesn't really get along with. His description of this man was priceless. Here's what he had to say about this individual: "I couldn't invent a better person to beat the s*** out of."

You've Been Warned

The NFL announced that the original AFL teams will wear throwback AFL uniforms for two games each in the upcoming season in honor of the 50th anniversary of the AFL. For the Denver Broncos, the NFL chose to have them wear the original uniform from the 1960 season (Only the Broncos and Tennessee Titans will wear their original 1960 uniforms.) If you thought that the Jets' original "Titans of New York" uniforms are ugly, just wait until you see the Broncos original duds. These are the worst uniforms in the history of sports. The colors were officially brown and mustard yellow, with brown helmets that display the player's number on the side. The socks have long been the butt of many jokes in this area. They are mustard yellow with vertical brown stripes. Legend has it that when the Broncos designed new uniforms after the 1962 season, the team held a public bonfire and burned the striped socks, though a few pairs of the original socks are said to have survived. One player described them as "the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen". Broncos Vice President of Public Affairs Jim Sacommano said that the team will wear the socks, much to the excitement/chagrin of Broncos fans. Below is a picture of the original uniform. You've been warned.

The Broncos will don their original duds for two games in the 2009 season 


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