January 15 to January 21: This week in Denver weather history
January’s reputation of being dry and windy is evidenced in our look back at this week in Denver weather history. While there are some notable events involving snow, high winds have been the most frequent event worthy of mention.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1888…a cold air mass settled over the city and caused temperatures to plunge well below zero on four consecutive days…but only one temperature record was set. Minimum temperatures dipped to 4 degrees below zero on the 13th… 19 degrees below zero on the 14th…20 degrees below zero on the 15th…and 11 degrees below zero on the 16th. The maximum temperature of only 4 degrees below zero on the 14th was a record low maximum for the date. North winds were sustained to 30 mph on the 13th.
In 1908…heavy post-frontal snowfall totaled 6.5 inches overnight. North winds were sustained to 32 mph. The temperature dropped 41 degrees in 24 hours from a reading of 48 degrees at 8:00 pm on the 14th to only 7 degrees at 8:00 pm on the 15th.
In 1950…strong winds occurred in Boulder and Louisville. Winds in excess of 60 mph were recorded at Valmont. Minor damage was reported. Southwest winds gusted to 50 mph at Stapleton Airport.
In 1959…a total of 5.5 inches of snow fell at Stapleton Airport.
In 1992…snow spread from the mountains across metro Denver. The heaviest snow was across the northern portion of the area where 7 inches fell at Thornton. At Stapleton International Airport…only 3.4 inches of snowfall were recorded and northeast winds gusting to 37 mph caused some blowing snow on the 14th.
In 1999…high winds howled across metro Denver. In Commerce City…strong winds toppled 3 utility poles resulting in a power outage to 600 homes. High wind reports included: 108 mph at Wondervu…80 mph at the Hiwan Golf Course in Evergreen…76 mph at Aspen Springs…75 mph at the Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield…74 mph in Boulder…and 70 mph at Georgetown. West to northwest winds gusted to 48 mph…the highest wind gust of the month…and warmed the temperature to a high of 60 degrees at Denver International Airport on the 15th.
In 1930…a protracted cold spell occurred when low temperatures plunged below zero on 8 consecutive days. The coldest low temperatures of 20 degrees below zero on the 17th and 19 degrees below zero on the 16th were record minimums for the dates. High temperatures during the period ranged from 18 on the 18th to zero on the 20th. Two degrees on the 15th was a record low maximum temperature for the date.
In 1875…the wind backed from the southwest to the northeast before noon. The temperature fell 48 degrees in one hour… From a high of 52 degrees to only 4 degrees between 11:30 am and 12:30 pm…as cold arctic air surged back over the city.
In 1888…the low temperature dipped to 20 degrees below zero.
In 1906…southwest winds were sustained to 44 mph.
In 1921…south winds were sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 48 mph. The winds warmed the temperature to a high of 63 degrees. The low temperature of only 47 degrees was a record high minimum for the date.
In 1943…strong Chinook winds struck the Front Range foothills. Wind gusts to 96 mph were recorded at Valmont in east Boulder…with 90 mph measured at Boulder airport. Some damage occurred.
In 1976…strong Chinook winds with peak gusts of 70 to 80 mph were recorded along the foothills. Northwest winds gusted to 46 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1982…a vigorous cold front plunged temperatures 22 degrees in an hour from 39 to 17 degrees. Strong northeast winds at 30 mph with gusts to 46 mph…along with some snow flurries…reduced the visibility to 1 mile in blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1987…heavy snow hit metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 10.3 inches at Stapleton International Airport…but amounts across the area ranged from 3 inches in southeast Aurora to 18 inches in the western and southwestern suburbs. Only an inch of snow was measured at Castle Rock. A half foot to a foot of snow fell in the foothills west of Denver and Boulder. Some schools were closed due to the storm. Temperatures hovered in the teens most of the day at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 30 mph.
In 1988…high winds were clocked in Boulder with a gust to 70 mph recorded at Table Mesa.
In 1998…strong winds developed in and near the Front Range foothills. Winds gusted to 71 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. South-southwest winds gusted to only 25 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1967…a major windstorm struck Boulder. The storm was described at the time as the worst single windstorm in the history of Boulder in terms of damage. Winds reached 125 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and at Boulder airport. Winds gusted to 84 mph downtown. Damage totaled a half million dollars in Boulder where some minor injuries were reported. At the Boulder Municipal Airport… 14 light airplanes were severely damaged. The second floor of a warehouse was blown down…damaging two nearby moving vans. A mobile home was blown over south of Boulder… Injuring one woman. The roof of a department store was blown in. There was widespread damage to houses…autos… And power lines from wind and flying debris. Strong winds also occurred in Denver and Golden…but damage was only minor. At Stapleton International Airport…west winds gusted to 43 mph on the 15th and to 45 mph on the 16th.
In 1981…heavy snow of 6 to 10 inches accumulated across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled only 1.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where east winds gusted to 21 mph on the 15th.
In 1991…a pacific storm system moved across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 3 to 7 inches with 3 inches in Aurora… Denver…and Castle Rock…4 inches in Arvada…and 7 inches at South Platte station just southwest of Denver. Snowfall totaled only 2.9 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 21 mph on the 16th.
In 2001…heavy snow fell across the Front Range foothills and urban corridor. The combination of careless driving and snowpacked highways resulted in 3 multi-vehicle accidents involving 30 vehicles…along I-25 in Douglas County. Eleven people were injured and one was killed. Snow amounts included: 11 inches in Evergreen; 10 inches at Eldorado Springs and Genesee; 8 inches at Broomfield… Ken Caryl Ranch…and Thornton; and 5 to 7 inches in Arvada…Bailey…Crow Hill…Gross Reservoir…Lakewood… Louisville…Westminster…and near Loveland. Snowfall totaled 2.7 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.
In 1962…a protracted cold spell kept metro Denver in the deep freeze for more than a week. From the 15th thru the 23rd…low temperatures were zero or below for 9 consecutive days…but a daily record low was set only on the 22nd when the temperature dipped to 14 degrees below zero. A record low maximum for the date was also set on the 22nd when the temperature climbed to only 11 degrees. The coldest high temperature was 3 degrees above zero on the 21st…which did not break the record. The protracted cold was broken for only a few hours on the afternoon of the 20th when Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 38 degrees before another surge of cold arctic air plunged temperatures back into the deep freeze that evening. The severe cold caused much damage to water systems. A woman was frozen to death at Morrison. There were other deaths attributable to the weather…including traffic deaths and heart attacks from overexertion.
In 1911…a trace of rain fell…a rare event in January.
In 1935…rainfall was 0.01 inch during the afternoon…a rare event in January.
In 1989…wind gusts to 80 mph were reported in southwest Boulder. Winds reached 100 mph at Rollinsville in the foothills southwest of Boulder. In Golden…the wind blew a 25-foot trailer through a fence and flipped it over. West winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 49 degrees.
In 1886…a brief cold spell resulted in two temperature records. High temperatures of zero degrees on the 16th and 2 degrees below zero on the 17th were both record low maximums for the dates. Low temperatures of 8 degrees below zero on the 16th and 16 degrees below zero on the 17th were not records.
In 1930…temperatures plunging well below zero resulted in two records. Low temperatures of 19 degrees below zero on the 16th and 20 degrees below zero on the 17th were record low temperatures for the dates. High temperatures were 4 degrees on the 16th and 15 degrees on the 17th. Light snowfall totaled 4.0 inches. North winds were sustained to 18 mph on the 16th.
In 1964…high winds struck the eastern foothills. Gale velocity winds were recorded in Boulder with gusts to 83 mph measured at Rocky Flats. Several airplanes were damaged at the Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield. Roofs…walls…and parts of buildings were blown away at various locations. Power poles and trees were blown over.
In 1943…light snowfall totaled 3.2 inches over the 3 days. This was the only measurable snow of the month. North winds were sustained to 20 mph on the 16th.
In 2011…very strong winds associated with an upper level jetstream over Colorado produced blizzard conditions in the mountains above timberline. Peak wind gusts included: 99 mph atop Loveland pass…94 mph…2 miles southwest of Mary Jane…80 mph atop Berthoud Pass and 79 mph atop Niwot Ridge. Storm totals in the ski areas west of Denver ranged from 8 to 14 inches.
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