December 4 to December 10: This week in Denver weather history
As we have seen in recent days, Old Man Winter oftentimes makes his appearance in earnest during the month of Denver. Looking back at this week in Denver weather history we can see that is not at all unusual.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1913…the 1st marked the start of the heaviest 5-day total snowfall in the city’s history. During this period snowfall totaled 45.7 inches. Starting on the 1st…snow fell intermittently for 3 days and accumulated a little over 8 inches. On the 4th and 5th…an additional 37.4 inches of snow fell. At Georgetown in the foothills west of Denver even more snow fell…86 inches over the 5 days with the most…63 inches…on the 4th. In Colorado…snowfall was heavy along the eastern slopes of the mountains from the Palmer Divide north. High winds during the storm caused heavy drifting…which blocked all transportation. Snow cover of an inch or more from the storm persisted for 60 consecutive days from the 1st through January 29…1914. Additional snowfall in December and January prolonged the number of days. This is the third longest period of snow cover on record in the city.
In 1909…post-frontal snowfall totaled 6.1 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow…5.9 inches…fell between 6:00 pm on the 2nd and 6:00 pm on the 3rd. North winds were sustained to 18 mph on both the 2nd and 3rd.
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.
In 1968…strong Chinook winds in Boulder gusting to 52 mph downtown caused 7 thousand dollars in damage. Flying debris damaged cars…houses…and other property in Boulder. West winds gusted to 49 mph late on the 3rd and to 45 mph on the 4th at Stapleton International Airport where the temperature climbed to a high of 60 degrees on the 4th.
In 1970…strong winds whistled through Boulder. Sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts to 70 mph were recorded at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder. Wind gusts to 50 mph occurred in downtown Denver. No damage was reported. On the 3rd…northwest winds gusted to 40 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 66 degrees on the 4th.
In 1999…heavy snow fell over the foothills and metro Denver. The heaviest snowfall occurred in the foothills south of I-70 and near the Palmer Divide. Snowfall totals included: 25 inches near Tiny Town; 18 inches at Conifer; 15 inches near Evergreen; 14 inches at Chief Hosa…8 miles west of Castle Rock…and near Blackhawk; 12 inches at Pine Junction and 8 miles south of Sedalia; 11 inches atop Floyd Hill and in Roxborough; and 10 inches at Castle Rock. Around metro Denver…snowfall totals included: 10 inches at Highlands Ranch…9 inches at Parker…and 8 inches in Aurora and Wheat Ridge. Elsewhere around the metro area…snowfall generally ranged from 3 to 5 inches. Only 3.2 inches of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North winds gusted to 32 mph at Denver International Airport on the 3rd.
In 2007…high winds developed in and near the Front Range foothills. Peak wind reports included: 88 mph atop Niwot Ridge; 87 mph atop mines peak; 80 mph…3 miles southeast of Jamestown; 78 mph at Longmont; 74 mph at Table Mesa. A few power outages occurred in Longmont as broken branches downed power lines. Northwest winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport on the 4th.
In 2013…a storm system brought heavy snow to parts of the Front Range Foothills. Storm totals included: 12 inches…7 miles west-southwest of Evergreen; 10.5 inches…3 miles north of Bailey; 9.5 inches…3 miles west of Jamestown and 5 miles northeast of Ward; 9 inches in Bailey…8.5 inches… 3 miles north of Conifer.
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.
In 1884…a windstorm during the afternoon produced sustained northwest winds to 34 mph with higher gusts. The strong wind blew one of the wooden slats from the weather instrument shelter…which broke the wet-bulb thermometer.
In 1885…north winds were sustained to 40 mph during the early morning hours. The strong winds were accompanied by a cold wave.
In 1893…northwest winds were sustained to 48 mph with gusts as high as 55 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees.
In 1901…Chinook winds sustained from the northwest at 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees in the city.
In 1906…rainfall of only 0.01 inch before daybreak was the only measurable precipitation of the month…ranking the month the third driest December on record.
In 1910…cold west winds were strong all day with a sustained speed to 44 mph.
In 1977…northwest winds gusted to 55 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees.
In 1978…high winds from 50 to near 150 mph occurred in the Boulder area. A pick-up truck was overturned…and a camper top was blown off another truck. Some roof damage was reported. Northwest winds gusted to 48 mph at Stapleton International Airport…where the Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 57 degrees.
In 1980…wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph occurred along the foothills. Southwest winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a record high of 69 degrees for the day.
In 1991…a volcanic ash cloud high in the atmosphere was clearly visible during the late afternoon being illuminated by the setting sun.
In 1995…very strong downslope winds gusting to 100 mph in the foothills knocked down trees and power lines… Triggering 800 power outages. Downed power lines sparked a half dozen brush fires ranging up to 4 acres in size. In Boulder…a portion of an old drive-in movie screen was blown down…and several car windows were shattered. The strongest wind gusts recorded were 100 mph at Golden Gate Canyon…99 mph at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology site…96 mph in north Boulder…94 mph at Wondervu…81 mph at Conifer…and 77 mph in south Boulder. West-northwest winds gusted to only 29 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1912…5.2 inches of post-frontal snow fell in downtown Denver. Most of the snow fell on the 4th when northeast winds were sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 46 mph.
In 1913…a major winter storm produced heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions in the city. The snow fell continuously for 40 consecutive hours from 4:30 am on the 4th until just before midnight on the 5th and totaled 37.6 inches. The greatest accumulation on the ground was 32.6 inches at 6:00 pm on the 5th. Strong north winds accompanied the storm with sustained speeds of 30 mph or more for more than 25 hours. The highest sustained wind velocity was 44 mph during the afternoon of the 5th. Winds gusted to 46 mph on the 4th and to 47 mph on the 5th. The winds piled the snow into 4-and 5-foot drifts. By noon on the 4th traffic was interrupted…and by evening the heavy wet snow had blocked most streets and highways. Street cars stalled when streets became blocked. Automobiles and other conveyances were abandoned in the streets. By the 5th… The blockage extended to steam railroads. Flat roofed buildings collapsed…including the roof of the Calvary Baptist Church. Many downtown workers were unable to make it home on the night of the 4th and filled downtown hotels to overflowing. Some enjoyed the festive mood of the occasion and partied through the night. The city auditorium…jail…and several movie houses served as shelters for hundreds of people. The snow was remarkably moist for this time of year with a total water content of 3.44 inches. Temperatures during the storm were between 25 and 34 degrees. Cold weather followed the storm and snow remained on the ground for a long time. On some street car lines…it took 6 to 7 days before the right of way could be cleared. The foothills measured even more snow from the storm. At Georgetown…the 2 day snowfall totaled 71 inches. The 2.12 inches of precipitation measured on the 4th is the greatest calendar day precipitation ever recorded during the month of December in Denver. The 2.29 inches of precipitation measured from the 4th into the 5th is the greatest 24 hour precipitation ever recorded in the city during December.
In 1972…only 4.5 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport…but high winds on the evening of the 4th caused blizzard conditions over the plains east of Denver. A 21-year-old University of Colorado student caught in the storm while cross country skiing west of Boulder froze to death. North winds gusted to 32 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1979…the Front Range was hit by strong Chinook winds. The Boulder area was hardest hit with winds gusting to 119 mph at Rocky Flats and 92 mph in the city. A wind gust to 104 mph was recorded at Wondervu. Damage was widespread…amounting to 1.2 million dollars mainly around Boulder. Roofs were blown off several buildings and homes… Hundreds of windows were broken…and many cars were damaged by flying debris. Small planes were severely damaged at 3 airports in the area. West winds gusted to 55 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 5th.
In 1996…persistent westerly flow aloft produced more high winds in and near the Front Range foothills. Several locations reported hurricane force winds with peak gusts of 100 to 120 mph. The high winds downed trees and power lines…leaving 700 residents without power for nearly 4 hours in the communities of beaver brook…blue valley… Conifer…Evergreen…and Floyd Hill. A wall of a building under construction in Lafayette was toppled…a semi-truck was blown over near the Boulder turnpike damaging a concrete barrier…and a 60-foot tree crushed a parked pick-up truck at a Denver residence. High wind gusts included: an estimated 120 mph at Blackhawk…115 mph at Aspen Springs…100 mph at the Eldora Ski Resort…75 mph atop Shanahan Ridge near Boulder…74 mph near Conifer…and 71 mph at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility. At Denver International Airport…west winds gusted to 51 mph on the 4th and to only 38 mph on the 5th.
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