December 11 to December 17: This Week in Denver Weather History
This time of year snow is a common occurrence but in our look back at this week in Denver weather history we are struck by the lack of significant snow events in the history books for the period. What we do see instead are a number of high wind events, many of which caused widespread damage.
From the National Weather Service:
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 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 1932…the second longest sub-zero period on record in Denver occurred. The temperature fell below zero shortly after 1:00 pm on the 8th and remained below zero for 92 hours until 9:00 am on the 12th. The lowest temperature recorded during this period was 13 degrees below zero on both the 9th and 11th. That temperature on the 11th was a record low for the date. High temperatures of 4 on the 8th…5 below zero on the 9th…1 below zero on the 10th… And 6 below zero on the 11th were record low maximum temperatures for those dates. Light north winds at 5 to 10 mph were accompanied by occasional light snow…which totaled only 2.2 inches.
In 1961…cold arctic air produced a protracted cold period. The temperature plunged to 16 degrees below zero on the 10th…establishing a new record for the date and the coldest reading since 25 degrees below zero on February 1… 1951. Low temperatures dipped below zero on 5 consecutive days with 9 degrees below zero on the 9th…16 below on the 10th…10 below on the 11th…and 12 below on both the 12th and 13th. High temperatures reached only 3 degrees on the 10th and 6 degrees on the 11th.
In 1933…downslope winds produced warm temperatures…resulting in record high minimums of 46 degrees on the 10th and 44 degrees on the 11th. High temperatures of 66 degrees on the 10th and 62 degrees on the 11th were not records. Southwest winds were sustained to 16 mph on the 10th.
In 1939…high temperatures of 70 degrees on the 10th and 74 degrees on the 11th were record maximums for the dates. The low temperatures of 39 degrees on the 10th and 41 degrees on the 11th were not records.
In 1948…high winds in Boulder and Louisville caused 1750 dollars in damage. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph were reported at Valmont and Boulder airport. Chinook wind gusts to 60 mph briefly reduced the visibility to 1/4 mile in blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.
In 1989…the season’s greatest snowfall to date hit metro Denver with 6 to 12 inches of snow. Flight delays at Stapleton International Airport reached 2 hours. Multiple wrecks snarled traffic on I-25 both north and south of the city. Snowfall totaled 7.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 25 mph on the 10th.
In 1938…snowfall totaled 3.7 inches in downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 21 mph with an extreme velocity to 22 mph.
In 1967…wind gusts to 58 mph in downtown Boulder caused minor damage. Northwest winds gusted to 47 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1980…winds to 60 mph were reported in Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 23 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The Chinook winds warmed temperatures to a high of 67 degrees.
In 1994…strong gusty winds occurred along the Front Range eastern foothills. A wind gust to 67 mph was recorded in Boulder with a gust to 58 mph measured at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. No damage was reported. Northwest winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1903…a sharp cold front on the 11th plunged temperatures from a high of 59 degrees to a low of 15 degrees…produced northeast winds sustained to 42 mph along with gusts as high as 60 mph…and produced 1.3 inches of snow overnight. The high temperature on the 12th was only 25 degrees.
In 1968…strong winds buffeted the eastern foothills and plains and caused light…but widespread property damage. Wind gusts of 50 to 75 mph were reported. West winds gusted to 52 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1940…5.4 inches of snow fell across downtown Denver. This was the only snowfall of the month. Temperatures were quite cold on the 13th with a high of 6 degrees and a low of 2 degrees below zero.
In 1984…up to 6 inches of new snow fell over metro Denver… Hampering flight operations at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled 3.8 inches and east winds gusted to 25 mph on the 11th.
In 1937…a thunderstorm…rare in December…produced 0.09 inch of rain in advance of a cold front.
In 1973…high winds occurred across all of metro Denver with the foothills area being hit the hardest. A wind gust to 120 mph was recorded in Boulder where damage to residences…mobile homes…fences…and buildings totaled 100 thousand dollars. A northwest wind gust to 66 mph occurred at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1988…strong winds were recorded in Boulder. Peak wind gusts reached 70 mph at Table Mesa and 61 mph in east Boulder. West winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1916…snowfall totaled 5.7 inches in downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 27 mph with gusts to 28 mph on the 12th.
In 1992…an upslope snowstorm whitened metro Denver. While snowfall totaled only 4.1 inches at Stapleton International Airport…7 inches of new snow fell in Morrison…with 12 inches measured in Castle Rock. North winds gusted to 23 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 13th.
In 1995…strong winds gusting to nearly 100 mph whipped across the foothills west of Denver. The strongest wind gusts included 98 mph atop squaw mountain and 75 mph at the Eldora Ski Area. West-northwest winds gusted to 41 mph at Denver International Airport on the 13th.
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.
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