Durango, Colorado: A Weather Wonderland of Unpredictable and Thrilling Chaos


What the weather looked like in Durango Colorado, on February 22, of 2023. The photograph was taken in the Purgatory Ski Resort in Durango, the snow, clouds, and fog minimizes the viewing distance and also, there were strong winds around all of Durango.

Ryan Montoya, Staff Writer

During the winter time in Durango, Colorado, Durango gets around a full month of snow with three months of just cold.  But in the past few years,  the Durango weather has been struggling with the winter. Usually, in those years it would only snow for about a week or two, covering the streets for around a month, and with low temperatures, students lose hope on snow days for school. But in the 2022-2023 school year, there was a sudden change. 

People who have lived in Durango Colorado for the past few years have noticed an abrupt change in weather and temperature. It used to be colder and the winters would be very long and the summers wouldn’t be as hot as they are now. Most of this is due to climate change. Climate change has affected the Colorado weather making it hotter during the summer and less snow during the winter. According to the Colorado Water Conservation Board, “ Colorado has warmed substantially in the last 30 years and even more over the last 50 years. Future estimates project temperatures rising an additional 2.5 °F to 5 °F by 2050”. In the long term, this affects Durango because Durango is mostly known as a snow town where tons of tourists visit to sled, snowboard, and ski. Hills and resorts are located all around Durango, just like the Purgatory Resort on the way to Silverton and Chapman Hill on Florida Road.  

But on Wednesday, February 22nd of 2023, a sudden windy snowstorm lasted two days in Durango. Surprisingly the Durango 9R district did not close down the school due to the district being behind in the required contact hours for the schools. Strangely, the days before the snowstorm occurred, the weather was amazing. Although it was still cold (the temperature was around 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit) the days were without any wind and had a massive amount of sun. The sun helped melt a vast amount of snow and ice that covered the roads and houses around Durango. Now what could have caused this abrupt change in weather, according to One the Snow, “ The Colorado mountains tend to wring out the moisture of the atmosphere, so that results in normally heavy snowfall during the prime skiing and snowboarding season”. Students, teachers, and parents were furious when the district did not call a snow day for the students and staff. For example, Diana Norberg, who is a freshman in Durango High School explained that on Wednesday February 22nd of 2023,” the whole thing was insane, I heard that buses were sliding off the roads with students in them and it was very scary”. But others believe that there are other reasons why there wasn’t a snow day in the Durango 9R District. David Weisfelt who is the social studies teacher at Durango High School helps explains in his opinion why there wasn’t a snow day,” Where I live in town it wasn’t as bad as i’ve seen it previously in this school year, the first snow day that we had it was super slippery and I had trouble getting up the hill at my house. But these last few days the road was in much better condition in the north end of town”. 

For students, staff, and teachers, the sudden change in weather can really put them in danger. For example, Carmella Wright who is a new student teacher with Ms. Krista Karpel at Durango High School clarifies,“my car was really snowed in all the way up to the windows and the snow in my car won’t melt because it’s so cold”. Wiesfelt also adds, “There was once where we went home at lunch time if I remember… because of anticipation of bad weather”.  Although the number of contact hours is important for in-person learning, especially after the Covid-19 quarantine where students were placed into online learning for approximately a year. The safety of students, staff, teachers, and anyone else who makes up the schools and districts should be the first priority in personal learning. Wright explained that on Wednesday, “No there shouldn’t have been a snow day because it was spirit week and it was pajama day but in the safety aspect yes there should have been one”.  

The change of weather can really affect school districts around the world. With snow being a massive impact during winter and even worse for states who receive snow, districts should consider preparing for the maximum amount of snow that could occur throughout the school year. With Durango High School being located in Colorado where all four seasons occur throughout the year, the Durango 9R Districts should prepare more snow days for the school year, and other dangerous weather conditions to keep our teachers, students and staff safe. 

“Climate.” DNR CWCB, https://cwcb.colorado.gov/focus-areas/hazards/climate#:~:text=Colorado%20has%20warmed%20substantially%20in,average%20summers%20in%20our%20future

Cassidy, Cassandra. “How the Mountains of Colorado Make Natural Snow.” OnTheSnow, 23 July 2022, https://www.onthesnow.com/news/how-the-mountains-of-colorado-make-snow/#:~:text=The%20Colorado%20mountains%20tend%20to,prime%20skiing%20and%20snowboarding%20season.