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Tips for Weathering Your First Winter in Boulder

Ah, winter. The most wonderful time of the year. That is until you factor in the frostbite (it’s been known to happen!), the sleet, and the ice that won’t come off your windshield no matter how hard you scrape. For people new to the area, all of this can seem foreign. So, what is winter in Boulder really like? And what should you expect?

Traffic, of course, but also the following:

Anticipate inaccurate weather reports

Sometimes, weather reports are spot on – the forecast calls for a foot of snow and a foot of snow falls. Other times, the opposite occurs: the cold front that was predicted never appears and everyone swaps out their parkas for flipflops. Never put too much credence in any type of weather report: think of the predictions as “possibilities” rather than “sure things.”

Know that Mother Nature is moody

People in Colorado have a saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” And this certainly holds true. This area is prone to drastic weather changes; it can snow in the morning and be 70 degrees by noon. It can do the reverse, too, so always make sure you’re prepared. In other words, never leave the house in the winter without a coat…or a beanie. It might be nice outside right now, but who knows what’ll happen in an hour.

Drive with caution

People who move to Colorado from warm climates often struggle to drive in snowy conditions. This isn’t because they drive too slowly or cautiously. Rather, it’s because they assume their SUV is immune to slipping and sliding. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. A vehicle with four-wheel drive will handle much better than the hatchback you’ve had since college, but ice is slick regardless of your vehicle’s bells and whistles.

Know that it gets much cooler after sunset

Some areas of the country don’t experience fluctuations in the weather: it’s 75 degrees in the morning and 75 degrees at midnight. Colorado temps, on the other hand, fluctuate dramatically. While the days are occasionally warm in the winter, the nights are a different story. Regardless of daytime temps, nighttime brings the freeze (and, on occasion, black ice). And this is felt as soon as the sun disappears over the mountains.

Expect traffic

As mentioned above, wintertime means traffic (yes, even more than usual). This isn’t every day, but when it’s snowing, raining, or sleeting, the gridlock increases dramatically. Be aware of this and plan accordingly. There is no such thing as a “nice commute” when the flakes are coming down.

Winter in Boulder (like all of Colorado) can be a magical experience. Yet that doesn’t mean it’s without its frustrations. These tips will help you know what to expect, upping the odds that your initial winter will be the first of many in our great little town.

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