Things To Do In Flagstaff During Winter – It was the first day of the ski season, and after 5 a.m. the only light came from John Nichols’ tractor. All the shields that were caught were snow. There was dust in the air. Thick snow sticks to the blades of the tractor, falls on the heated windshield and begins to melt.
“It’s starting to feel more like winter this year,” Nichols said. He went ahead, straightened a wide ski track. Then he took a sharp left and went downhill to find another pile of snow.
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A flashlight shone on the slope, and then it became clear: the snow stopped a few steps away. Ski chairs hung in the brown grass. Aspen and ponderosa pines stretched overhead, but nothing fell from the sky.
Arizona Snowbowl (flagstaff)
As the impact of climate change increases, Bairaktaf’s natural snow winter is beginning to disappear. The city still saw a flurry of snow — several inches fell the first weekend in December — but the harsh winters of Nicole’s childhood were rare. A new existence has emerged in their place, the temperature is warming, the snow is melting, and the question is echoing through the city:
Environmentalists predict irreversible damage to fragile ecosystems. Owners of hotels and ski shops are preparing for another dry winter. The mayor expressed concern about the arrival of “climate refugees” and the impact of climate change on the poor and elderly. Longtime locals, frustrated by rising rents and the seemingly endless expansion of their small town, fear the town will never be the same.
“We only go to places that don’t go to snow places,” said Joe Shannon, an ecology professor at Northern Arizona University and a Sierra Club member who has lived in Flagstaff for 32 years. “People want to interact with him.”
Nichols heard the talk about climate change. But he just wanted to ski. He grew up in Flagstaff, playing football in the summers and spending the winters in the mountains and never left. The farthest he’s ever lived is the dorms at NAU, where he was a mechanical engineering major, and he realized Flagstaff was bigger than his high school. Then he bought a house two miles away from his parents.
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Now 25, he’s a snowmaking engineer at an Arizona ski resort, responsible for creating winter when nature doesn’t want it.
The company has been snowballing since 2012, hoping to stabilize an unpredictable industry. Management said the perceived threat of climate change was not a factor in the decision. But during last year’s dry season, the project received more snow than ever before.
Nicole slides everything, but still has to watch the snowflakes fall. Real snow makes the flag feel normal, he said. But on Snowfall’s opening day, Nov. 16, it only snowed twice. Most are lost. The maximum daytime temperature is 52 degrees. There was no storm.
“We’re making winter,” he said as he finished another cup of coffee. Country music was playing softly from his phone. Goggles fell from his snow bucket hat, which failed to hide the skier’s dark curly mess. He shooed them away and headed for another pile of snow. Ahead of him the turpentine flickered on Humphrey’s Hill.
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Ski season starts in three hours. Nicole brushed away the pile of snow that had piled up on the car, turned onto an empty road, and headed up the hill. The first skiers of the season are starting to arrive. Nichols checked the weather on his phone: 32.8 degrees.
Nicole was sitting on a thin path of snow, brown flames on both sides. He turned and went back. To his right was a dry canopy, and elsewhere there were thick ponderosa pines. Smoke billowed across the valley in front of him.
Behind him, the snow cannons were still working. Mount Humphreys is now fully illuminated with several areas of natural snow visible.
Somewhere out there, Flag Pass’ real winter ended and a new, artificial winter began. But the line was invisible.
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He and his cat pulled a U-Haul trailer on Old Route 66 in 1969. They moved from New York to California. “I was just passing through,” he recalls, but in Flagstaff he found everything he wanted: snow-capped mountains and dense forests, public spaces and a bustling downtown, and the weather seemed pretty good.
The city already feels different. It was a little bigger, a little more powerful, a little more expensive. Travelers were divided into groups. The university began to grow. Flagstaff’s thriving lumber industry is on the brink of collapse. But he caught everything he liked.
McKinney moved to the front lines of climate change in Arizona, where subtle differences pointed to dire consequences. Last year was the hottest year on record for Coconio County, with temperatures in Flagstaff nearing 100 degrees for the first time. All traces of the forest are dying. All four seasons, which residents of the flagship value so much, begin at the edge.
Flagstaff’s way of life depends on great snow. The snow protects the iconic pine forest and when it melts, it supplies the city with water. The ski resort provides $40 million to the local economy and hundreds of jobs. The snow allows the proud city to distance itself from the desert environment. And this is on the official coat of arms of the city: in the background dark green mountains stand out with small white lines.
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“My strong feeling is that it’s on the edge of the flag,” said NAU biological sciences professor Bruce Hangat. “This change in snow and ice levels could be enough to change the character of a city’s winter.”
Makin, who spends a lot of time volunteering with various environmental groups, has already seen a change in character. There were lakes and the dead kept dying, and his beloved camp at Mount Kendrick was burned to the ground. As the fire burned, he sat in the truck wiping away tears, knowing that nothing was forever.
He decided to retreat, give up his victory and go elsewhere. Maybe Oregon or Colorado. But nowhere else offered everything that drew him to the Flag Festival, now 72 years old.
On a cool November morning, Mackin drove his Chevy pickup south, past Flag Cross and around the pond, heading toward Upper Lake Mary. After 15 miles the tree line was breached, the ground dropped and everything was brown. The lake dried up in the field.
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Makin stopped and walked towards the bank. He loved the lake and spent warm summer days on a friend’s boat, sailing, but he never went anywhere. This is where people paddle board and fish for Northern Pika. But now it was empty.
A few years ago, Makin recalls, the water was rushing in all directions. The lake rises and falls every year.
“It’s probably the worst I’ve ever seen here,” he said. Crossed a row of rocks and crossed the lake bed. Each step pushes air into the dirt. The footprints of the sun were baked on the ground. Shell fragments were scattered everywhere. The only water was a thin strip in the center. Skis could fix that, he joked.
He stood on a dry lake and slowly turned around, taking everything the flagpole could destroy. It was beautiful in a dark way. He saw a woman and a dog come out into the empty land. He saw a truck parked in the water. He could see a dark patch of forest in the distance, with broken ponderosa branches and trunks.
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He used to come every year since childhood. Even if Christmas did not fall, there was still snow on the ground and that was enough. But last year, when temperatures topped 50 degrees, it was warm enough that he decided to have a Christmas barbecue. There was no snow.
He grew up here and is now a third-generation flag bearer in a poor family. The climate was her childhood: in winter, she was the only girl on a hockey team that played on one of the city’s frozen lakes. In the summer, he fished in the ponds and played in the river behind the house his grandfather built.
Evans lives at his grandfather’s house, but the stream is gone. So are most of the city’s lakes. Temperatures hit 96 degrees this summer, and Evans recently noticed small spots on her hands covered in mosquito bites.
New fears filled his mind, fearing the fire that could destroy the city and the drought that would destroy it, the exodus of people fleeing Phoenix’s desolate summer. Can it sustain the city’s infrastructure and how will the city’s poor and elderly fare?
Flagstaff Roads Cleared By Snow Plow On Feb. 22, 2023
“How do we adapt and not lose our sense of place, our sense of identity, our love of flagpoles?” he said.
City officials held town hall and community meetings, and residents took notes describing the changes they were seeing. People noticed that their gardens grew strangely. They complained that there were more errors than usual. Has anyone seen how many apples have grown this year? People were worried about hot summers and electricity bills
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