A number of skiers and concerned businessmen have approached me about the lack of recent snowfall. Their cry is always the same: “What can we do?!” I’m not a licensed meteorologist. I can only recommend what has always worked for the white man: “Begin,” I say, “by washing your car.”
Proper use of the ritualistic Magic Wand
Some avid snowsports enthusiasts doing their part to
The principle behind this time-honored ritual (known scientifically as Vehiculus Scrubbus) isn’t fully understood, but it is a known fact that clean cars attract rain and snow. Every single time I’ve seen a line more than three cars deep at the spray-off car wash, fresh snow has fallen within 24 hours. Some of my Native American brothers have suggested that circling the car with the Magic Wand, bending down and scrubbing the tires with the Sudsy Brush and complaining about running out of quarters are similar enough in sound and motion to those rituals performed in traditional Indian rain dances to appease the Great Spirits of Precipitation.
At times like these, I usually ask three of my friends to wash their cars, and to call three of their friends and ask them to do likewise. That’s why you’re reading this now; we’ve gone electronic. As long as nobody breaks the chain, we usually get snow within four days of putting out the call.
What can you personally do to make it snow? Try putting your ski and snowboard equipment in the closet, completely out of the light. Misplace your gloves or fleece jacket. It seems to help. Pretend winter is over. Back in the mid-90’s when we had that southwestern Colorado warm spell in January, large numbers of cyclists got their bikes out and started riding again. Why not? It was warmer than April had been the year before. Sure enough, within a week we had tons of snow. Any sporting activity that depends on the lack of snow qualifies as snow-bringing when performed in January. Apparel choices help; a buddy of mine suggests wearing Hawaiian print shirts and sandals.
When things get really desperate, remove any sandbags, shovels, or any other equipment designed to improve traction from your vehicle. Take your tire chains
out of your trunk and put them in the garage where they can’t possibly help you. Be sure there aren’t any blankets, food or extra articles of winter clothing in the back seat. It’s when you’re the least prepared that the snow usually flies. If things get really, really bad, take your windshield scraper out and put it in the house. Consider having your studded snow tires dismounted. Purchasing regular (non-snow) tires is also a good move; in any case, they’re usually on sale this time of year. Road trips by unprepared drivers can help bring on the white stuff; every trip a rear-wheel drive car makes over a dry mountain pass adds to the likelihood of a storm.
This FedEx employee apparently didn’t get his company’s
Local businesses can do their share as well. Downtown merchants can help out
by having their windows washed, and getting rid of every last piece of snow
and ice left on sidewalks from the last storm. A clean and dry city, you see,
is a snow magnet. Our local auto dealers have all “stepped up to bat” by bringing on additional lot attendants to make sure every vehicle for sale on their lot
is washed and waxed. After all, you can’t sell 4×4’s when the roads aren’t covered
with snow and ice. Fleet owners like FedEx make giant contributions by ensuring
their lily-white trucks are spotless. Now we need to get UPS on the ball. UPS
Management thinks they can get away washing their trucks half as often by painting
them brown. They obviously don’t realize the impact their reduced vehicle washing
is having on the ski industry. I propose a boycott until they get with the program.
Our local hardware stores should be thanked profusely for the magnificent snows
we had in ’96. They ran completely out of snow shovels, ice picks, and snowblowers.
This left the snow gods little choice but to crap enormous white blankets over
our entire region. Unfortunately, they ordered double this year. If they don’t
blow this stuff out soon with deep discounts, we could still be riding our bikes
Spitting in the face of the snow gods seems to work for city leaders, as Denver’s
mayor Wellington Webb found out. In 1998, after declaring Denver International
“the airport no blizzard can close,” he found out who the real boss of
Pena Boulevard is. Local officials could do likewise by putting out a press
release claiming something like: “No amount of snowfall at county airport will
ever delay a United Express Airline flight.”
Some southwestern Colorado resorts reportedly budgeted beaucoup bucks for a
cloud-seeding program. Fools! Imagine trusting silver iodide over the proven,
car-cleaning techniques I recommend. Cloud seeding never made any sense to me.
You throw a bunch of mothballs out the vent window of a Cessna 172 and you grow
more clouds. Big deal! I’m convinced cloud-seeding is merely a boondoggle invented
by pilots wanting to get paid for joyriding, thereby getting the IFR hours they
need to stay current. In fact, I may start a cloud-seeding program next year
for this very reason. Then again, the folks of small, rich ski towns like Aspen
and Telluride always think solutions can just be bought, if you just have enough
money. Next thing you know they’ll be calling George Lucas and saying, “Well,
if you folks can’t make it snow, can you at least make it look like it’s
Above all, I urge skiers and snowboarders not to panic. Act as if blue skies
and blinding sunshine are exactly what you expected to see in January. Pretend
you’re in southern California and venture out in polo shirts or halter tops.
Change the channel when the TV weatherman comes on, and never, ever visit www.weather.com.
It’s a proven fact that high-power doppler radar melts snow clouds faster than
a popsicle in a microwave, so the fewer people viewing those charts, the better
chance our snow clouds have of surviving. And don’t forget! Wash that car today!