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A white Christmas in Thornton? Chances not great but not bad either

Monday, December 19th, 2016 9:06pm MDT

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.

Historical Probability of a White Christmas. (NOAA)

Historical Probability of a White Christmas. (NOAA)

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Thornton’s workweek starts with warming temperatures, calm conditions

Monday, December 19th, 2016 5:07am MDT

After three days with temperatures stuck well below freezing, we start to thaw out today. In fact, overall the workweek is going to feature temperatures near or above normal.

For today we start out with clear skies and temperatures in the low single digits. Sunny skies will be the general rule throughout the day with just a few clouds late. Temperatures will be warming to a high close to the normal of 42 degrees for the date.

Looking ahead at our weather for the rest of the week, Tuesday will be the warmest day of the week with the mercury pushing toward 50 degrees. The balance of the workweek should see highs in the low to mid-40s. The next storm system looks to arrive for the weekend and Christmas holiday bringing colder temperatures and a chance for snow.

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December 18 to December 24: This week in Denver weather history

Sunday, December 18th, 2016 8:34pm MDT
This Week In Denver Weather History

December 18 to December 24: This week in Denver weather history

Looking back at Denver weather history, it is readily apparent that the week leading up to Christmas has historically been a very eventful one. There are certainly many of the snow and wind events we would expect to see. Most notable however are the major winter storms like the pre-Christmas storm of 2006 and of course what is arguably Denver’s most famous winter storm, the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1982.

From the National Weather Service:

17-24

In 1924…a prolonged cold spell occurred after mild temperatures during the first half of the month. Most low temperatures dipped below zero with the coldest reading of 15 degrees below zero occurring on the 24th. The high temperature of only 5 degrees on the 18th was a record low maximum for the date.

18

In 1901…north winds were sustained to 52 mph with gusts to 58 mph behind an apparent cold front.

In 1973…a brief blizzard dumped heavy snow across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 9.2 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusting to 53 mph produced much blowing snow. The storm forced many schools and businesses to close.

In 1996…a homeless man in Denver was found unconscious in his car suffering from exposure. The man’s body temperature was only 85 degrees when he was discovered. He died several hours later. Early morning temperatures had dipped to 9 degrees below zero.

In 1999…high winds were reported for a brief time in the foothills. Winds gusted to 72 mph in Golden Gate Canyon and to 71 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the foothills southwest of Boulder. West winds gusted to only 39 mph at Denver International Airport where the temperature warmed to a high of 53 degrees.

In 2002…only a trace of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. This…along with the trace of snow on the 5th…was the only snow of the month…ranking the month the 2nd least snowiest on record.

18-19 In 2012…a storm system brought moderate to heavy snow to the mountains and foothills west of metropolitan Denver and blizzard conditions to plains east of Denver metro area. The combination of snow and wind reportedly reduced visibility to just a few hundred feet at times…and resulted in several road closures including Interstate 70 east of Aurora. East of Denver gusty northerly winds ranged from 35 to 55 mph produced extensive blowing and drifting snow…ranging from 1 to 4 feet in depth. Storm totals ranged from 3 to 5 inches. In the mountain and foothills…the heaviest snowfall occurred along and north of I-70 and included: 12 inches at Genesee…9 inches near Eldorado Springs; 8.5 inches at Coal Creek Canyon…8 inches near Evergreen… with 6 inches at Eldora Ski Area…Idaho Springs… Gross Reservoir and Nederland. At Denver International Airport…1.7 inches of snowfall was observed. In addition…a peak wind gust to 35 mph was observed from the north on the 19th.

18-21

In 2010…a winter storm produced a 4-day period of moderate to heavy snow in the mountains. The combination of strong wind and heavy snow forced the closure of several mountain passes due to the threat of avalanches. The Amtrak train route… Which runs from Denver to California…was rerouted through Wyoming when Union Pacific closed its tracks along Interstate 70. Numerous accidents forced the closure of I-70 at times. The wind gusted to 60 mph over the higher mountain passes. Storm totals in the ski areas west of Denver ranged from 16 to 32 inches.

18-24

In 1998…a vigorous cold front with north winds gusting as high as 38 mph at Denver International Airport on the 18th dropped temperatures from a high of 51 degrees to a low of just 6 degrees before midnight. The arctic air mass that settled over metro Denver produced intermittent light snow and a week-long protracted cold spell that caused low temperatures to plunge well below zero for 6 consecutive nights. The coldest temperature was 19 degrees below zero on the morning of the 22nd. High temperatures climbed only into the single digits on 4 consecutive days…from the 19th through the 22nd. At least 15 people…mostly homeless… Were treated for hypothermia at area hospitals. The bitter cold weather was responsible…either directly or indirectly… For at least 5 fatalities. Three of the victims died directly from exposure. The cold weather also caused intermittent power outages. Following the cold snap… Thawing water pipes cracked and burst in several homes and businesses…causing extensive damage. Only one temperature record was set. The high temperature of only 7 degrees on the 19th set a record low maximum for the date.

19

In 1913…post-frontal heavy snowfall totaled 8.5 inches over downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to only 16 mph.

In 1994…an intense pacific storm system and associated cold front moved across Colorado early in the day. Strong downslope winds buffeted the Front Range eastern foothills. The highest wind gust recorded was 92 mph at Rocky Flats in northern Jefferson County. Most of the wind gusts during the day ranged from 63 to 86 mph with lighter gusts of 40 to 58 mph on the northeast plains. The strong winds downed power lines and poles in south Lakewood…causing power outages to 2400 homes. Other small power outages and surges occurred across metro Denver. Northwest winds gusted to 43 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

19-20

In 1982…high winds buffeted the eastern foothills. At midday on the 19th…gusts of 75 to 80 mph were recorded in the Table Mesa area of Boulder. A gust to 62 mph was clocked in Boulder on the evening of the 20th.

In 1989…strong winds howled at mountain top level in clear creek and Gilpin counties. Speeds reached 97 mph on the summit of Squaw Mountain and 84 mph one mile south of Rollinsville. Northwest winds gusted 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 20th.

19-23

In 1990…a surge of very cold arctic air invaded metro Denver. Many temperature records were broken as the mercury remained at or below zero for 85.5 hours at Stapleton International Airport…making it the third longest period of subzero readings in 118 years of record keeping. On the morning of the 22nd…the mercury plunged to 25 degrees below zero…which equaled the all time record low temperature for the month set on December 24…1876. In the foothills southwest of Denver at tiny town…the mercury plunged to 33 degrees below zero on the morning of the 21st. On the same morning at Castle Rock the temperature dipped to 26 degrees below zero. During the period…other daily temperature records were set at Denver…including: record low maximum of 3 degrees below zero on the 20th and a record low of 17 degrees below zero on the 23rd. The record low was equaled with 16 degrees below zero on the 20th and 21 degrees below zero on the 21st. Snowfall totaled 2.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport from the 19th through the 21st.

20

In 1894…southwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a maximum of 69 degrees…which was a record high temperature for the date. The minimum temperature dipped to only 33 degrees.

In 1903…northwest Chinook winds sustained to 54 mph with gusts to 60 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees.

In 1948…strong winds occurred along the eastern foothills from Boulder north. Wind gusts to 45 mph were recorded at Valmont with a gust to 30 mph at Boulder airport. Some damage occurred. Wind gusts to 50 mph caused some blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.

In 1957…strong Chinook winds…gusting to 51 mph from the northwest…warmed the afternoon temperature to a high of 54 degrees.

In 1981 high winds were reported in the foothills with a peak gust of 87 mph recorded at Wondervu.

In 1992…strong Chinook winds raked the eastern foothills with 69 mph recorded at Table Mesa in south Boulder. Southwest winds gusted to only 21 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1996…five construction workers were injured…two seriously…when a sudden wind gust blew over a 30-foot- high retaining wall they were working on in western Lakewood. The scaffolding they were standing on collapsed…and some were pinned under the rubble for 15 minutes. Wind gusts of 60 to 75 mph were reported in the area. Southwest winds gusted to only 24 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2004…strong downslope winds developed over the eastern mountain slopes and spread over metro Denver. Peak wind gusts approached 100 mph along the foothills of Boulder County. In Superior…a 1200-square-foot section of roof was peeled off the gymnasium at Monarch High School. Two semi-trailers were toppled on Colorado highway 58 at McIntyre Street and another at c-470 and west Bowles Avenue. Two airplanes were damaged by wind-blown debris at Jefferson County Airport. The high winds forced the closure of State Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder for approximately two hours. Insurance agents estimated 650 to 850 homes suffered wind damage in the Boulder and Louisville areas. In addition…downed trees and power lines left about 1000 residents…mainly in the Boulder area…without electricity. At least three people suffered minor injuries in the storm. Peak wind reports included: 95 mph in Superior…92 mph at Jefferson County Airport…85 mph in Golden…81 mph in Boulder…80 mph in Broomfield and Evergreen…and 79 mph in Louisville. West northwest winds gusted to 59 mph at Denver International Airport.

20-21

In 1969…high winds caused widespread…but mostly minor damage to roofs…windows…and power lines and overturned some house trailers in areas along and just east of the foothills. Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were reported in Boulder and south of Boulder at Rocky Flats. A wind gust to 115 mph was measured in Boulder at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. At Stapleton International Airport…west winds gusted to 44 mph on the 20th and to 45 mph on the 21st. The warm Chinook winds warmed the high temperature to 56 degrees on the 20th and to 65 degrees on the 21st.

In 2006…a major blizzard buried greater metro Denver and the adjacent foothills in deep snow. A slow moving upper level low pressure center produced deep moist upslope flow over the high plains and against the eastern slopes of the mountains…allowing heavy snowfall to persist for 34 hours across metro Denver. Total snow accumulations ranged from 1 to 2 1/2 feet across the city and from 2 to nearly 4 feet in the foothills. Adding to the misery… Strong north winds sustained at 20 to 35 mph with gusts from 45 to nearly 60 mph produced much blowing snow and piled the snow into drifts from 6 to 12 feet high…closing businesses and bringing all transportation to a halt. The storm forced the closure of Denver International Airport for a total of 45 hours which snarled the nation’s air traffic system. This was the longest closure in the airport’s 12 year history. The closure stranded nearly 5000 travelers when 2000 flights were canceled. Many inbound flights were diverted to other airports…stranding even more passengers. Many of the stranded travelers failed to reach their final destinations until days after the airport re-opened due to fully booked flights during the holiday season. Police and national guardsmen rescued hundreds of commuters stuck in their cars…and sent them to temporary shelters set up by the Red Cross. All interstates and other major highways in and out of Denver were closed. Greyhound was forced to cancel all bus trips from Denver. Mail delivery was suspended. The Regional Transportation District suspended all metro Denver bus service for the first time since the March 2003 blizzard. The roof of a discount store in Aurora collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. In Lakewood…a power outage left 5600 residents without electricity for a brief time. Metro Denver snowfall amounts included: 34 inches 10 miles southeast of Buckley AFB…32 inches in Littleton…30 inches in Thornton and near Castle Rock…29.5 inches near Parker…28 inches in Wheat Ridge…25.5 inches at centennial airport…25 inches at Niwot…24 inches in Aurora…22.5 inches at Greenwood Village… 22 inches in Arvada…21.5 inches in Lakewood…20 inches in Longmont…and 15.5 inches in Boulder. Snowfall measured 20.7 inches officially in the Denver Stapleton area. This ranked the snowfall as the 7th greatest in the city since 1946. North winds were sustained to 37 mph with gusts to 55 mph at Denver International Airport. In the foothills snowfall totaled: 42 inches at Conifer and 11 miles southwest of Boulder…40 inches at Evergreen…39 inches at Aspen Springs… 37.5 inches 8 miles north of Blackhawk…33 inches near Nederland…31 inches at Intercanyon and near Tiny Town…30.5 inches atop Buckhorn Mountain…30 inches near Indian Hills… 29 inches at Rollinsville…24 inches near Gross Reservoir and Ralston Reservoir…22.4 inches atop Crow Hill…and 20 inches near Georgetown. Snowpacked and rutted streets and parking lots persisted for a month or more after the storm and subsequent storms. The heavy snowfall created a snow removal controversy when many citizens complained that residential streets were not cleared in a timely manner in the city and in some suburban areas. This was in spite of the fact that tens of millions of dollars were spent on snow removal. In the city of Denver…snow cover of an inch or more from this storm and subsequent storms persisted for 61 consecutive days…through February 19…2007. This is the second longest period of snow cover on record in the city. Many homeowners who had extensive Christmas lights and decorations in their yards were not able to remove the lights because the wires were buried in deep snow and ice until the end of February or later.

» Click here to read the rest of December 18 to December 24: This week in Denver weather history

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Denver sets record low temperature for December 17

Saturday, December 17th, 2016 8:14pm MDT

Record Cold TemperaturesWe knew it was going to be cold today in the wake of our overnight snow and sure enough, the numbers bear that out.

Denver recorded a low temperature of 15 degrees below zero at 7:14pm.  This easily bests the record low for December 17 of 13 degrees below zero set in 1909.

Here in Thornton, we managed to stay warmer, although with these extremes, that isn’t saying much. Thornton hit a low of 10.7 degrees below zero at 5:57pm.

The storm system brought 5.8 inches of snow to Thornton, our biggest snowfall of the season. Out at DIA where Denver’s official measurements are kept, 8.0 inches fell.

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Much colder temperatures, snow, arrive for Thornton’s weekend

Friday, December 16th, 2016 5:02am MDT

Following what was a very mild day yesterday, significant changes arrive today that will affect the entire weekend. The mercury will be dropping today to be followed by snow overnight and then bone-chilling cold Saturday. While Sunday will warm back up, it will remain quite cold.

For Friday we saw our high temperature of the day soon after midnight and it is going to be pretty much all downhill from there. Temperatures in the 30s early will be giving way to readings in the 20s by late afternoon as cold air pushes through. Skies above will be mostly cloudy.

We may see a flurry or two by mid to late afternoon today but most of the snow will hold off until after midnight and fall between then and dawn on Saturday. An inch or two of the white stuff will be possible. Overnight tonight the temperatures will plunge to lows right at, possibly a bit below, zero.

Saturday morning brings a few lingering flakes of snow but then clearing will occur quite quickly by mid to late morning. Despite the sun, it is going to remain very cold with high temperatures tomorrow only in the single digits. Saturday night into Sunday morning the clear skies are going to help facilitate bone-chilling low temperatures below zero.

Sunday will offer a warmer day but mercury readings will remain well below normal. Look for sunny skies and highs coming close to the freezing mark. Have a great weekend and stay warm and safe! For all the latest, head over to our Winter Weather Briefing Page.

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Thursday to bring Thornton’s warmest temperatures of the week

Thursday, December 15th, 2016 5:13am MDT

A brief respite from the cold for us today and tomorrow as we enjoy above normal high temperatures. It will be short-lived as our next system arrives late Friday ushering in our next blast of cold air.

For today look for partly sunny skies to kick things off and similar sky conditions to remain through the day. Winds will be out of the southwest, possibly becoming a bit breezy this afternoon. Temperatures will be climbing toward a high right near the 50 degree mark, a good bit above the average for the date of 42 degrees.

Looking ahead, tomorrow will be somewhat similar to do but then a cold front moves in during the evening and overnight hours. This is going to send the mercury plunging, possibly to below zero Friday night / Saturday morning. Saturday highs will only be in the single digits. We do have a chance for some light snow accumulations Saturday night into Saturday morning.

Until the cold arrives, enjoy the relative warmth.

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Weather Geek Stuff is your one-stop-shop for the weather enthusiast on your gift list

Thursday, December 15th, 2016 3:02am MDT

Weather Geek Stuff is a great place to shop for gifts for weather enthusiasts, weather geeks and weather lovers.

Not everyone gets excited about blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and other types of extreme weather but many folks out there are passionate about Mother Nature.  Weather enthusiasts are certainly a different breed and they would welcome a gift that shows their enthusiasm for everything the weather offers.  Weather Geek Stuff is an online shop just for those whose hearts race with the thrill of severe weather.

Weather Geek Stuff is an online store that provides a host of clothing items and novelties just for weather buffs.  From the store’s custom ‘Weather Geek’ and ‘Weather Diva’ logoed merchandise to items imprinted with amusing weather warnings signs as well as Skywarn storm spotter logos, there is something there sure to please any weather lover.

Weather Geek Stuff’s merchandise was shown on the Weather Channel as a recommended gift so you know the quality is good.  Stu Ostro, Weather Channel’s Senior Director of Weather Communications even sports a ‘Weather Geek’ t-shirt on his Twitter profile.

Kids and dogs aren’t left out of the weather fun either.  There is a wide variety of clothing items sized just right for the little ones from babies to bigger kids.  Canine companions as well can get shirts and bowls emblazoned with a weather-related logo.

The selection goes far beyond clothing too.  Water bottles, clocks, mugs, bags and other novelties are part of the store’s offerings.  For the tech types, cases for iPhones and iPads are available.  Recently added products include laptop skins, clipboards and throw blankets.

Be sure to head over to WeatherGeekStuff.com and get that holiday gift today for your favorite weather geek. 

Support ThorntonWeather .com

Weather Geek Stuff is owned and operated by the same folks that run ThorntonWeather.com.  We provide ThorntonWeather.com as a no-cost service to the community and use the minimal amount of money made from Weather Geek Stuff to support the costs of running this website and the associated equipment.  So remember, if you have a weather buff on your shopping list, by buying from Weather Geek Stuff you are supporting ThorntonWeather.com!  You can also donate directly to fund the site here.

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Wednesday to see colder temperatures, less sun

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016 5:04am MDT

A cold front is moving through this morning and that is going to keep the mercury down today. While the high country will once again see snow, we will remain dry.

Look for mostly cloudy skies to start the day and similar sky conditions to be with us throughout the day. Winds will be out of the northeast and just a bit breezy at times. In terms of temperatures, we start out in the teens and will then warm to a high in the mid to upper 20s.

After today, we bounce right back with warmer weather tomorrow and Friday then the next system arrives Friday bringing a chance for snow into Saturday morning and cold temperatures through the weekend. More details in our extended forecast.

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Passing cold front brings chilly temps to Thornton

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 5:17am MDT

The first in a series of two fronts is going to serve to cool things down a good bit today. A second moves through tonight leading to even colder readings tomorrow.

For today we start out with mostly sunny skies and expect the same to stick around all day. Some occasionally breezy winds can be expected. In terms of temps, look for highs today to top out in the mid to upper 30s.

The second front that moves through tonight will keep mercury readings below freezing tomorrow. We will be dry throughout.

Live weather gauges.

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Thornton’s workweek starts with a seasonal, pleasant day

Monday, December 12th, 2016 5:36am MDT

As we head back to work for the week we are going to enjoy a nice, late fall day. Temps will be a bit above normal, there will be plenty of sun and the only potential hiccup will come in the form of some breezy winds this afternoon.

We start out the day under mostly clear skies and similar conditions above will remain. A few spots may be seeing some fog early but those will burn off quickly once the sun comes up. Temperatures will be climbing toward a high in the mid-40s, a bit above the average for the date of 42 degrees. This afternoon will bring some gusty winds.

Have a great Monday!

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