Stuff I Wrote Elsewhere: On Snow

This whole Up Front thing we’re doing at the Journal, with a rotating cast of writers doing front page columns on pretty much whatever amuses or intrigues them, is a bit of an experiment. My entry today was more experimental than usual, not sure if it worked entirely, but it was fun.

The back story: I had a different topic in mind that for newspaper production reasons was pulled out from under my feet. (It ran as a straight feature story last Sunday.) I needed to do some kind of a March 1 snowpack update anyway, I’d just been on a delightful bike ride in the snow, and snow is just plain cool.

The result. Snow. What’s up with that? (sub/ad req)

The little clumps of snow pelting us last Thursday as a friend and I rode bikes in the Albuquerque foothills were just right: enough to be beautiful, but not so much to be dangerous or even annoying.

Above us, clouds shrouded the top of the Sandias, and my riding buddy got it right when he said mountains just look right with snow on them.

New Mexico’s mountains have looked right for much of the winter. With a warm El Niño in the Pacific driving storms our way, this has been a good snow year in New Mexico. Not great, but if you like snow, it has been good.

The classic El Niño southern storm track has left most of the state’s southern mountains piled with more than twice as much snow as normal for this time of year. Most of the snow measurement stations in northern New Mexico are slightly above average.

Somewhere up in those clouds above the Sandias last Thursday was what Kerry Jones, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Albuquerque office, later explained to me was the “dendritic growth layer,” the place where snow is made.