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White Christmas in Denver? Snow on the holiday not particularly common

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 6:00am MST

For many, the holiday season isn’t complete without a chill in the air and snow on the ground. Here in Denver we historically enjoy a better chance of experiencing the proverbial white Christmas than many places in the nation.

However, how the Mile High City fares in experiencing a white Christmas does depend on your definition of one.

If it means having actual snowfall on Christmas Day the chances aren’t that good. But, if simply having snow on the ground suffices, the chances improve considerably.

For a complete look at Denver’s Christmas weather statistics, click here.

For the latest Thornton weather forecast for Christmas, check out our forecast page.

Historical probability of a white Christmas (at least 1" of snow on the ground).  NOAA / NCDC

Historical probability of a white Christmas (at least 1″ of snow on the ground). NOAA / NCDC

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Wednesday weather features cool, cloudy conditions, slight chance for snow

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 5:44am MST

Plenty of cloud cover, slightly below normal temperatures and just the slightest chance for some afternoon snow are the main things to look out for today.

We’ll start out the day with mostly cloudy skies and those will be sticking with us throughout.  Temperatures are going to be topping out in the mid to upper 30s here in Thornton.

As for snow, there just isn’t much moisture to work with.  However, from early to mid-afternoon and through the evening there is a chance to see some of the white stuff.  Right now, minimal accumulations – if any at all – are expected.

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December 14 to December 20: This Week in Denver Weather History

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 5:15am MST
This Week In Denver Weather History

December 14 to December 20: This Week in Denver Weather History

Bitter cold, powerful winds and major snowstorms are the biggest highlights of this week in Denver weather history.

2-17

In 1939…more than 2 weeks of unseasonably warm weather made the month the 3rd warmest on record. Seven daily temperature records were set…including the all-time record high temperature for the month of 79 degrees on the 5th. Daytime highs were balmy with 14 days in the 60’s and 70’s. Low temperatures dipped to freezing or below on only 5 days. The period was dry with only a trace of snow on the 12th.

3-15

In 1972…a protracted cold spell held an icy grip on metro Denver when maximum temperatures never reached above freezing for 10 consecutive days from the 3rd through the 12th and minimum temperatures dipped below zero on eleven consecutive days from the 5th through the 15th. Daily low temperature records were set with 15 degrees below zero on the 5th…17 degrees below zero on the 6th… And 18 degrees below zero on the 10th. Daily record low maximum readings were set with 3 degrees on the 6th and 6 degrees on the 9th. The very cold temperatures were caused by 3 to 5 inches of snow cover and a Canadian air mass.

12-15

In 1921…downslope Chinook winds produced warm temperatures in the city…which resulted in 4 temperature records. High temperatures of 72 degrees on the 13th and 68 degrees on the 15th were record maximums for the dates. Low temperatures of 47 degrees on both the 12th and 13th were record high minimums for the dates. West winds were sustained to 38 mph on the 12th and to 25 mph on the 13th.

13-14

In 1902…heavy snowfall totaled 6.4 inches in the city overnight. North winds were sustained to 18 mph with gusts to 20 mph on the 13th.

In 1925…heavy apparent post-frontal snowfall totaled 7.8 inches across downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 34 mph with gusts to 42 on the 13th… And north winds were sustained to 33 mph with gusts to 38 mph on the 14th.

In 1951…heavy snowfall totaled 5.9 inches at Stapleton Airport.

In 1987…a snowstorm dropped 2 to 8 inches of snow along the Front Range foothills. Eight to 12 inches fell just south of Denver. Icy streets and highways contributed to many traffic accidents across metro Denver and flights were delayed at Stapleton International Airport where 2.7 inches of snow fell and northeast winds gusted to 17 mph.

In 1991…high winds pummeled metro Denver. Wind gusts to 93 mph were recorded at Rollinsville. Wind speeds across metro Denver were generally 35 to 50 mph. Northwest winds gusted to 48 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 13th.

14

In 1926…an intrusion of cold air resulted in temperatures remaining below zero. The high temperature of one degree below zero was a record low maximum for the date. The low temperature was 11 degrees below zero. North winds were sustained to 17 mph.

In 1985…a wind gust to 61 mph was recorded at Table Mesa in Boulder.

In 1996…high winds gusting from 60 to nearly 80 mph moved off the Front Range foothills and over the northeast Colorado plains in the wake of a fast moving cold front. The strongest wind gusts included 79 mph at Golden Gate Canyon and 70 mph near Table Mesa in southwest Boulder. At Denver International Airport…west-northwest winds gusted to only 39 mph.

14-15

In 1988…a snow storm again whitened metro Denver. Snowfall along the Front Range was in the 6 to 12 inch range. Snowfall totaled 5.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 38 mph.

In 1990…high winds howled across metro Denver behind a strong pacific cold front. Boulder was hardest hit by the high winds. A wind gust to 120 mph was recorded in south Boulder where winds stripped the roof off a garage…a vacant gas station…and a house under construction. Elsewhere in Boulder…several trees were blown down. In Boulder canyon…the winds toppled two cinder block walls on a house under construction. Four Boulder County women were treated for injuries caused by the wind. The injuries were confined to a broken wrist…a mild concussion…bruises…and facial cuts. Two semi-tractor trailers were blown over by the fierce winds south of Boulder. Another truck rollover occurred southeast of Golden. Drivers of all three trucks suffered only cuts and bruises. Several vehicles were trapped in a blinding dust storm on the Denver-Boulder turnpike near Broomfield. Drivers were forced to stop along the highway for several minutes during the storm and witness their vehicles being pelted with sand and gravel. A wind gust to 97 mph was recorded in Golden. High winds were also reported in Arvada…Boulder…and Lakewood. Winds toppled a number of utility poles and wooden fences…blew out windows…and caused structural damage to a large apartment complex on the west side of Golden. Wind gusts of 70 to 100 mph caused considerable damage to several large billboards north of Golden…as well as damaging the paint…trim…and glass on numerous vehicles in the area. A west wind gust to 51 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.

» Click here to read the rest of December 14 to December 20: This Week in Denver Weather History

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More clouds, cooler temperatures for Thornton’s Tuesday

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 6:06am MST

Increased moisture above is going to lead to more clouds today.  Those same clouds are going to be responsible for holding down temperatures.  Look for partly clear skies as the sun comes up and then cloud cover will increase.  For most of the day it will be mostly cloudy.  Temperatures are going to top out only at around 36 degrees as the clouds will be keeping the sun’s warmth out.  Conditions will be dry.

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As storm moves out, Thornton to start a week of seasonal weather conditions

Monday, December 15th, 2014 5:06am MST

Yesterday’s brief and light bout of snow has now moved out.  In its wake we will have a week with temperatures near normal and another chance for snow.

For Monday we start out cold but will be warming up to a high around 39 degrees.  Average for the date is 42 degrees so this won’t be too far off the mark.  Partly clear skies will gradually ease a bit and by the end of the day mostly sunny skies will be above.

For the balance of the week, temperatures look to remain right near normal.  Another system is expected to arrive Wednesday night and that could bring some light snow Thursday but right now it doesn’t look like it will amount to much.

Live conditions.

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A mixed bag of weather for Thornton’s weekend

Friday, December 12th, 2014 5:09am MST

Friday and the weekend are going to offer a little bit of everything.  Unseasonably warm temperatures will be the hallmark of Friday and Saturday but that will be followed by colder temperatures and a chance for snow Sunday.

For today we see a day much like yesterday.  Temperatures will be pushing the mid-60s under mostly sunny skies.  Perhaps a few more clouds this afternoon and evening.

Saturday will be cooler but still a mild, pleasant day.  Clouds will be a bit more prevalent but overall mostly sunny skies should be seen again.  Highs will be topping out in the mid-50s.

The storm system we have been watching all week arrives overnight Saturday.  Latest models point to a track too far south to have a great impact on us.  The system never had much moisture to work with anyway.

However, it will be colder and we do still have a decent chance to see some precipitation.  Best chances for snow begin before sunrise Sunday morning and last through much of the daytime hours.

At the current time, less than 2 inches of accumulation is expected, although that could change depending on how things play out over the next 48 hours.  Look for highs on Sunday to reach the mid to upper 30s.

Have a great weekend and keep an eye on our Winter Weather Briefing Page for all the latest with the coming storm.

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A terrific Thursday with mild temperatures, plenty of sun

Thursday, December 11th, 2014 5:04am MST

The mercury will keep rising today as we enjoy another day of pleasant weather conditions and unseasonably warm temperatures.  Friday and Saturday will offer more of the same but the latter half of the weekend looks to turn colder and bring the possibility of snow.

For today look for clear skies for most of the day, perhaps a few high clouds by mid-afternoon or so.  Temperatures will be climbing to a high of around 63 degrees, about 20 degrees above normal.

Friday should be even warm with a high of around 66 followed by 56 Saturday.  A storm system looks to arrive late Saturday and bring significant changes.

Models continue to shuffle around on possible solutions for a track of the system which will be the big determining factor on its impact to us.  As it stands right now, snow Saturday night through Sunday looks like a distinct possibility.  As for how much, there is too much uncertainty to put numbers on it yet.  Until that arrives, just enjoy the mild conditions!

The image has your weather outlook for today.  For the extended forecast, see here: http://www.thorntonweather.com/forecast.php

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Thornton to try again Wednesday for those mild temps

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014 5:41am MST

Well, yesterday’s weather definitely didn’t turn as mild as expected thanks to high cirrus clouds and a mountain wave.  Today those factors should be lessened a bit and with any luck we will have an unseasonably warm day.

We’ll start out Wednesday with mostly clear skies.  There will be some increase in cloud cover later this morning and into the early afternoon.  Right now we are expecting a high temperature around 57 degrees – if those clouds don’t dampen things too much.

Mild days are still expected to be the rule through Saturday.  A storm system arriving Saturday night will bring things back to reality with cold and possibly snow Sunday.  Models are continuing to point to a closed low over southern Colorado which should set the stage for a decent little snowfall in our area.  Much can of course change between now and then so stay tuned!

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Thornton’s Tuesday to feature plenty of sun, mild temperatures

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014 6:13am MST

A very pleasant late fall / early winter day is ahead for us.  Mild temperatures plenty of sun will be on tap today and through the rest of the week.  After that, we may be talking about snow.

For today mostly sunny skies will be above during the daytime hours.  We start out a bit chilly but will be warming to a high in the mid-50s, well above normal.  Each day from Wednesday through Friday will gradually get warmer and Saturday will be just a bit cooler.

The big story on our radar is the potential for a storm system arriving late Saturday into Sunday.  Being four days out, models are not being entirely consistent with the system which isn’t surprising.  However some do seem to be pointing to the potential for accumulating snow Sunday.  We will have to see.

The image has today’s Thornton weather outlook and of course http://www.thorntonweather.com is the place to go for the latest.

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December 7 to December 13: This Week in Denver Weather History

Monday, December 8th, 2014 5:22am MST
This Week In Denver Weather History

December 7 to December 13: This Week in Denver Weather History

Arctic cold, heavy snow and  powerful, damaging winds are the highlights in our look back at this week in Denver weather history.

From the National Weather Service:

2-17

In 1939…more than 2 weeks of unseasonably warm weather made the month the 3rd warmest on record. Seven daily temperature records were set…including the all time record high temperature for the month of 79 degrees on the 5th. Daytime highs were balmy with 14 days in the 60’s and 70’s. Low temperatures dipped to freezing or below on only 5 days. The period was dry with only a trace of snow on the 12th.

3-15

In 1972…a protracted cold spell held an icy grip on metro Denver when maximum temperatures never reached above freezing for 10 consecutive days from the 3rd through the 12th and minimum temperatures dipped below zero on eleven consecutive days from the 5th through the 15th. Daily low temperature records were set with 15 degrees below zero on the 5th…17 degrees below zero on the 6th… And 18 degrees below zero on the 10th. Daily record low maximum readings were set with 3 degrees on the 6th and 6 degrees on the 9th. The very cold temperatures were caused by 3 to 5 inches of snow cover and a Canadian air mass.

5-7

In 1978…a major storm dumped heavy snow across metro Denver. At Stapleton International Airport…snowfall totaled 8.5 inches…northeast winds gusted to 46 mph…and temperatures plunged from a high of 49 degrees on the 5th to a low of only 6 degrees on the 6th. Maximum temperature of 6 degrees on the 7th was a new daily record low maximum reading. Most of the snow…6.7 inches…fell on the 5th.

5-8

In 1983…high winds occurred in and near the foothills each day. Wind gusts to 63 mph were registered in Golden Gate Canyon on the evening of the 5th. On the evening of the 6th…winds knocked down trees…snapped power lines…and blew out windows across metro Denver. Gusts were clocked to 102 mph in southwest metro Denver…while wind gusts to 38 mph were recorded at Stapleton International Airport. On the 7th…winds overturned a tractor trailer near Castle Rock. After midnight on the 8th…gusts to 97 mph were reported in southeast Boulder. Wind speeds of 60 to 70 mph were reported in other parts of metro Denver.

6-7

In 1953…high winds buffeted the eastern foothills. Wind gusts to 80 mph occurred on Lookout Mountain. In Denver winds gusted to 65 mph. Damage in Boulder totaled 15 hundred dollars.

7

In 1897…west winds were sustained to 53 mph with gusts to 66 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 62 degrees…the warmest day of the month.

In 1957…a vigorous cold front produced a dust storm as it moved south across metro Denver. West-northwest wind gusts to 59 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport where the surface visibility was briefly reduced to 1/2 mile in blowing dust. Light snowfall of only 0.8 inch followed the passage of a secondary Canadian cold front.

In 1958…the worst wind storm in several years caused 10 thousand dollars damage in Boulder where wind gusts were estimated to 75 mph.

In 1977 winds up to 115 mph were reported in the Boulder area where one house was unroofed and another damaged. One woman was knocked down by the wind and injured. Several families were evacuated from homes in Boulder. Damage to trailers and motor vehicles was widespread. West winds gusted to 54 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 64 degrees.

In 1987…strong winds buffeted the Front Range foothills. A peak gust to 93 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Nearby…a metal shed was blown over a fence into a tree two houses away. Wind gusts of 70 to 80 mph were common in Boulder.

In 1988…4 to 8 inches of snow fell across metro Denver and caused traffic gridlock conditions on area highways. The 3.9 inches of snow at Stapleton International Airport caused two-hour flight delays. Northeast winds gusted to 25 mph.

In 2005…a brief cold snap resulted in record breaking temperatures. The low temperature of 13 degrees below zero was a record minimum for the date. The high temperature of only 3 degrees was a record low maximum for the date. The cold temperatures were accompanied by 1.4 inches of light snow that was measured at Denver Stapleton overnight on the 6th and 7th.

7-9

In 1919…an apparent arctic cold front brought extreme cold and light snow to the city. Snowfall totaled only 2.5 inches on the 7th and 8th. Temperatures dipped to lows of 14 degrees below zero on the 8th and to 20 degrees below zero on the 9th. Both readings were daily record minimums. High temperatures were only 4 degrees on the 8th and 7 degrees on the 9th.

In 1923…a major storm dumped 13.5 inches of snowfall on downtown Denver. The apparent post-frontal snowfall started during the late afternoon of the 7th and continued through the evening of the 9th. Temperatures dipped from a high of 66 degrees on the 7th with west winds sustained to 35 mph to a low of only 14 degrees on the 9th…with north winds sustained to 25 mph.

8

In 1880…severe winds buffeted the eastern foothills…causing some damage in Boulder.

In 1987…high winds damaged a chimney and roof of a house near Bergen Park in the foothills west of Denver. Gusts were estimated to 70 mph. Northwest winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

8-9

In 1943…4.5 inches of snow fell in downtown Denver. This was the only measurable snow of the month. North winds were sustained to 26 mph on the 8th.

In 2003…snowfall totaled 3 to 6 inches across metro Denver. Snowfall was heavier in and near the foothills with 8.0 inches measured in Boulder and 10 miles southwest of Sedalia. Snowfall was 3.9 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Most of the snow fell on the 8th…as the snow ended shortly after midnight. North winds gusted to 29 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2008…an upslope snowstorm produced heavy snow in and near the foothills of Boulder…Jefferson and Douglas counties… And along the palmer divide south of Denver. Storm totals in the foothills ranged from 8 to 15 inches. In Boulder and in areas west and south of Denver…storm totals ranged from 6 to 13 inches. The snowfall measurement at Denver International Airport was 3.9 inches.

» Click here to read the rest of December 7 to December 13: This Week in Denver Weather History

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