Winter 2013

Those of you in the midwest and eastern U.S. would probably be glad to send winter our way. Here in the southwest, we’re struggling though another pitiful winter. The Chamber of Commerce probably loves it, and the news people deliver forecasts with cheerful expressions, but the reality is snowfall is our future water supply and our best hope against another disastrous summer wildfire season.

Last week I was flying to New Orleans and as our flight path took us over the Grand Canyon and northern New Mexico, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of snowfall on the ground. It’s late February, and these are places that should be under a couple feet of snow. Since my return, there has been one saving grace of a storm, and I can see snowfall on more than just the highest peaks around Las Vegas for perhaps the second time all winter.

As a photographer, I love the changing of the landscape as the winter storms pass through. In the lower elevations, we know it doesn’t last long, and timing can be critical to capture the event before it melts. When snow falls in the sandstone canyons, the contrast is usually spectacular. Last winter started out looking promising. A three day rain finally moved on and left the mountains dumped with snow.

The photo above, taken that next morning, is one of my favorites. I have never seen a snowfall here that left everything unrecognizable. I wasn’t sure if those were plants or rocks under all those bumps. I had periods of sunlight breaking through that morning, but the softer light under cloud cover was the best for this situation. I can only hope it’s not another year before I can capture winter’s transformation.