I cant believe its already March. Winter is flying by and summer is tangible with it right on the horizon. March is an interesting month here in Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s our snowiest month and one of the best time of the year to hunt for winter landscapes and fresh snow. You can get a taste of all four seasons in March but the one is more likely to get the full brunt of a winter powder dump in March than any other time of the year.
So far March 2021 in Rocky Mountain National Park has come in like a lamb. They early weather pattern looks fairly mild over the next week with a few chances for some light snow. We need the moisture here in Colorado and we have slowly been working our way back towards normalcy as winter winds down. Snowpack in Rocky is at about 90% of what it should be right now. Thats pretty decent considering how dry its been since the fall.
Even if we get some of our classic March blizzards and snow dumps we are still going to have a very difficult time getting our snowpack back to 100% for this season. Because March is our snowiest month, catching up to at or near 100% normal snowpack will be very difficult as we would need a lineup of large storms to really dump on the area in an above average pattern.
Still we can remain positive knowing we have made up some of the deficit and while I would say it’s likely we enter the summer months at a slight disadvantage, we should still be looking better than we were at the start of 2021.
More importantly, it’s a good time to plan a trip to RMNP if one is looking towards capturing winter landscape images. The storms this time of year tend to be packed full of moisture but they also tend to move out quickly which opens up opportunity for snow covered landscapes, fog and dramatic lighting if one’s in the right place at the right time.
One other benefit to capturing the snow covered landscapes this time of year in Rocky is that the lighting angles on the east side of the park are really improving. Many of the classic Rocky Mountain National Park landscapes have peaks that face north and east. As the sun rises further north on the horizon each morning as we head towards summer, the lighting gets better on the northeast face of Longs Peak, Hallett Peak, Taylor Peak and Notchtop.
Contrary to the middle of winter when the sun is rising at its southernmost point, these iconic locations will be getting nice frontal lighting now. In the middle of winter mountaintops such as Longs Peak and Hallett Peak will be mostly in shade or side lit when the sun rises leading to long shadows and often poor lighting.
Keep an eye on the weather and be prepared for just about anytime of weather this time of year. If you want winter landscapes to add to your photography portfolio, March and April are the months to circle your calendar and keep your winter gear tucked in the back of your vehicle. With a little luck we can improve the snowpack and our winter portfolios all in one shot. Good luck!.