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Once weather was just weather

Alex Miller

Climatology isn’t math – hardly an exact science we can rely on – which is a vexing issue when you consider that we live in a place whose entire economy relies, in large part, on weather. Snowy weather.Remember when weather was just weather, without a lot of subtext about what’s causing it and why? As we sit up here near the top of the world this winter getting deluged with more snow than we know what to do with, it’s easy to forget that much of the rest of the country is warm and dry – with what will likely turn out to be the warmest January on record this year.No wonder skier visits are through the roof: Everyone wants to get the heck out of Des Plaines and into the hills. Having extraordinarily fluffy hills to play on doesn’t hurt, either.Ever wondered, though, what happens if and when the phenomenon called global warming shows its ugly side and perhaps greens us up all winter long? We hope it doesn’t ever happen, but with the majority of ostensibly in-the-know scientists saying global warming is the real deal, what would it look like around here?If we’re lucky, we get 80 or 90 years on this planet – hardly a sneeze in the history of this ancient rock we live on. But that’s long enough to make us think we know a thing or two, like the North Pole should always be covered with ice, Mount Kilimanjaro should always have literary snows and Glacier National Park should have, you know, glaciers. These truisms, alas, are going the way of the flat Earth theory as the planet warms up. So who’s to say the maxim that Vail always has snow will hold up indefinitely?Just when we get comfortable with a status quo, it can be shaken up. Remember the late ’90s, when it seemed the stock market would go up forever? Those who made hay while the sun shone did great. The rest of us moped into the new millennium, wishing we’d done something different, even if we weren’t quite sure what.With the bumper crop of snow gracing our hills this season, it’s tempting to forget that water is key to our survival and that we need to keep a close eye on the future as thirsty Front Range cities – and ourselves – put increasing demands on a limited supply. For the towns and resorts that make up ski country, that means playing hard-ball with water rights and making sure we’ve got what we need to make snow when the snow gods get stingy.For the time being, though, let it snow … and let’s enjoy it while it lasts.Vail, Colorado


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