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December 27 to January 2: This week in Denver weather history

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 5:10am MST

This Week in Denver Weather History

Snow and wind are the two dominant weather conditions seen on our look back at this week in Denver weather history.  Fourteen years ago, the second of two major winter storms buried Denver and closed highways.  Thirteen years ago, damaging winds that downed trees and caused power outages occurred.

25-31

In 1980…temperatures were unusually warm during the week between Christmas and new year’s.  High temperatures for the week ranged from the mid-50’s to the mid-70’s.  Four temperature records were set.  Record highs occurred on the 26th with 68 degrees…the 27th with 75 degrees…and the 30th with 71 degrees.  A record high minimum temperature of 41 degrees occurred on the 27th.

26-27

In 1954…a major storm dumped heavy snow across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 8.6 inches at Stapleton Airport.  The storm produced the heaviest snowfall of the calendar year and was the only measurable snowfall in December.

In 1987…a snowstorm stalled in northeastern Colorado…giving metro Denver its worst winter storm in 4 years.  Total snowfall from the storm ranged from 12 to 18 inches on the east side…1 to 2 feet in Boulder County…and 2 to 3 feet in western and southern parts of metro Denver.  The largest reported snowfall was 42 inches at Intercanyon in the foothills southwest of Denver.  Snowfall totaled 14.9 inches at Stapleton International Airport.  Winds were light on the 26th…but increased as high as 40 mph on the 27th… Creating near-blizzard conditions and forcing complete closure of Stapleton International Airport for about 8 hours.  The strong winds whipped drifts to 5 feet high on the east side of town.  All interstate Highways leading from Denver were closed on the 27th.

26-28

In 1979 a heavy snow storm dumped 6 to 10 inches of snow over the metro area and 15 to 20 inches at Boulder with up to 2 feet in the foothills west of Boulder.  Heavy snowfall totaled 6.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 21 mph.  Most of the snow… 4.8 inches…fell on the 27th.

27

In 1895…west Chinook winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 48 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 52 degrees.

In 1901…an apparent cold front produced sustained north winds to 41 mph with gusts to 48 mph.

In 1957…northwest winds gusting to 52 mph produced some blowing dust across metro Denver.

In 1975…a northwest wind gust to 53 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1976…a strong pacific cold front moving across metro Denver produced a northwest wind gust to 53 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1990…high winds raked the eastern foothills with a wind gust to 84 mph clocked on fritz peak near Rollinsville. The strong northwest winds of 50 to 70 mph whipped newly fallen snow over higher areas into billowy clouds several hundred feet high that could be seen from most locations across metro Denver.

In 1996…another round of high winds developed over portions of the Front Range foothills during the morning hours. Several wind gusts from 70 to 100 mph were reported at Wondervu southwest of Boulder.  West-northwest winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2005…a trained weather observer in Georgetown recorded a wind gust to 94 mph.  No damage was reported.

In 2007…a winter storm brought heavy snow to portions of the urban corridor and adjacent plains.  Storm totals generally ranged from 3 to 7 inches.  Locally heavier bands produced up to 10 inches of snow.  In the urban corridor…storm totals included:  10 inches…10 miles south-southeast of Buckley AFB and at Castle Pines; 9.5 inches…4 miles south-southeast of Aurora and Kassler; 7.5 inches…2 miles southeast of Highlands Ranch; 7 inches in Aurora and Sedalia; 6.5 inches in Arvada…4 miles east of Denver and Lafayette; 6 inches in Castle Rock and Thornton.  A measurement of 5.4 inches was taken at the former Stapleton International Airport.  The official total for the month was 20.9 inches; making it the 6th snowiest December on record.

27-28

In 1997…high winds combined with fresh snow from a previous storm caused highways to become slick from drifting snow and near whiteout conditions in localized ground blizzards. Strong winds blew snow across the runways at centennial airport…which glazed over and formed areas of ice.  Two planes were damaged when they slid off the runway while landing.  No injuries were reported.  Numerous accidents also occurred on I-25 and I-70 as ice formed under the same conditions.  A rollover accident which injured 4 people on State Highway 93 near the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility was also attributed to the high winds.  The high winds caused an office building and showroom under construction in Golden to collapse. The largest wall was 180 feet long and 28 feet high. Some high wind reports included:  86 mph at Golden Gate Canyon…72 mph near Conifer…and 70 mph at Jefferson County airport and the National Center for Atmospheric Research on the mesa near Boulder.  West-northwest winds gusted to 53 mph at Denver International Airport on the 27th.

In 1998…damaging downslope winds formed in and near the foothills.  Peak wind gusts ranged from 71 to 114 mph. Numerous trees were blown down in Coal Creek Canyon and near gross reservoir.  Power lines were blown down… Resulting in scattered outages.  Peak wind reports included:  114 mph at Wondervu…92 mph in Golden Gate Canyon…88 mph in Coal Creek Canyon…and 79 mph 8 miles west of Conifer.  West winds gusted to 46 mph at Denver International Airport on the 28th.

27-29

In 1983…a second surge of bitter cold air in less than a week was less intense.  Record breaking low temperatures of 12 degrees below zero on the 28th and 15 degrees below zero on the 29th were accompanied by 3.7 inches of snowfall and northeast winds gusting to 23 mph.

28

In 2001…brief high winds developed in the foothills west of Denver.  Winds gusted to 86 mph on Fritz Peak near Rollinsville.  West to northwest winds gusted to 39 mph at Denver International Airport where the temperature climbed to a high of 51 degrees.

28-29

In 1906…a trace of snow fell on both days…which along with a trace of snow on the 5th…was the only snow of the month…ranking the month the second least snowiest December on record.

In 1970…wind gusts to 87 mph were recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.  Winds gusted to only 46 mph in downtown Boulder.  Damage was minor.

In 2006…while metro Denver residents were still digging out from the heavy snowfall and blizzard that occurred on December 20-21…the second major winter storm in a week buried the city and the eastern foothills again in more deep snow.  Heavy snowfall ranged from 1 to 2 1/2 feet in the foothills and from 6 to 18 inches across the city.  Another slow moving storm system centered over the Texas panhandle produced deep upslope flow over the high plains and against the Front Range mountains.  The storm produced blizzard conditions over the plains mainly south of interstate 76.  Interstate 70 as well as other roads and highways was closed from Denver to the Kansas line due to snow and blizzard conditions.  Greyhound was forced to cancel all bus trips from Denver.  The heaviest snow fell in and near the foothills and south of Denver over the palmer divide…where north winds sustained at speeds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph piled the snow into drifts 4 to 14 feet deep.  In the city…the heavy snowfall persisted for a total of 29 hours.  Snowfall totals across metro Denver included:  17.5 inches at Ken Caryl; 15 inches 3 miles south-southeast of Morrison; 14 inches in Boulder and Lone Tree; 12 inches in Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch; 11 inches in Wheat Ridge; 10.5 inches in Littleton; 10 inches in Arvada…Broomfield…and Louviers; and 8.5 inches in Lakewood and Thornton.  Officially…snowfall totaled 8.0 inches at Denver Stapleton.  North winds sustained to 25 mph with gusts to 32 mph produced some blowing snow at Denver International Airport.  In the city…this second storm increased the total snowfall for the month to 29.4 inches…making the month the third snowiest on record.  In the foothills the snow fell at a rate of 3 to 4 inches an hour at times.  Total snowfall in the foothills included:  30 inches near Genesee; 29.5 inches 12 miles northwest of Golden; 25 inches in Evergreen and near Bergen Park; 24 inches near Conifer; 23.5 inches 3 miles southwest of Golden and near Gold Hill; 23 inches near Jamestown; 22.5 inches in Rollinsville; 19.5 inches in Aspen Springs; 19 inches near Blackhawk; 18.5 inches at Nederland; 16 inches in Indian Hills…at Intercanyon…and in Eldora; 15.5 inches at Echo Lake; and 12 inches near Ralston Reservoir.  The total cost of snow removal just at Denver International Airport from this storm and the previous storm was in tens of millions of dollars.  The airport estimated up to 6.7 million dollars in extra costs for contractors…overtime…equipment…de-icing chemicals…and other expenses.  The two storms cost the airport 4.6 million dollars in loss concession revenues. United airlines reported lost revenue of over 25 million dollars from the two storms…while frontier airlines lost an estimated 12.1 million dollars.

» Click here to read the rest of December 27 to January 2: This week in Denver weather history

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December 2020 top shots: Monthly photo slideshow

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 3:12am MST
A home in Thornton all decked out for the holidays. (LE Worley)

A home in Thornton all decked out for the holidays. (LE Worley)

The month of December can offer everything from bone dry conditions to bone chilling cold and monstrous snowstorms.  The weather and wildlife all afford an abundance of photo opportunities as our December photo slideshow shows.

Leaves have fallen from trees now and the landscape can sometimes look quite stark.  However it only takes a quick shot of snow to change that picture greatly.  Throw in gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, plenty of wildlife big and small, kids playing and much more and the month can be quite colorful and eventful.

  • Slideshow updated December 30, 2020
  • To learn more about how to send your photo to us for inclusion in the slideshow, see below the slideshow.

Showcasing images captured by ThorntonWeather.com readers as well as some of our own, our monthly slideshow covers the entire gamut of weather-related imagery.

Sunsets, sunrises, wildlife and of course every type of weather condition are vividly depicted in images captured from yours and our cameras.

What is missing in the slideshow above?  Your photo!

Our monthly photo slideshow is going to feature images that we have taken but more importantly images that you have captured.  The photos can be of anything even remotely weather-related.

Landscapes, current conditions, wildlife, pets, kids.  Whimsical, newsy, artsy.  Taken at the zoo, some other area attraction, a local park, a national park or your backyard.  You name it, we want to see and share it!

Images can be taken in Thornton, Denver or anywhere across the extraordinary Centennial State.  We’ll even take some from out of state if we can tie it to Colorado somehow.

We’ll keep the criteria very open to interpretation with just about any image eligible to be shown in our slideshows.

What do you win for having your image in our slideshow?  We are just a ‘mom and pop’ outfit and make no money from our site so we really don’t have the means to provide prizes.  However you will have our undying gratitude and the satisfaction that your images are shared on the most popular website in Thornton.

To share you images with us and get them included in the slideshow just email them to us or share them with ThorntonWeather.com on any of the various social media outlets.  Links are provided below.

So come on, get those camera’s rolling!

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Tuesday’s weather to remain cold and offer a few lingering flakes of snow

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020 5:06am MST

The storm system is now wrapping up and exiting our area. As it does, we will stay cold and a little bit of snow will be possible through the day.

Cloudy to mostly cloudy conditions will be above throughout the day today until the late afternoon / early evening. Temperatures will be topping out in the mid-30s. Winds will be a bit breezy, particularly late afternoon into the evening. Some light snow may continue to fall throughout the day but no additional accumulations are expected.

Tonight, skies will begin to clear quickly after dark and winds will ease by midnight. Overnight lows will be dropping to the mid-teens.

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Wintry weather returns to start Thornton’s workweek

Monday, December 28th, 2020 5:09am MST

Our recent streak of warm weather has come to an end as a couple of systems look to chill us out and bring a light dose of snow. While a notable change, it will not be particularly dramatic.

The day starts off with mostly cloudy to cloudy skies. Sky cover will become pretty solid later this morning. Temperatures will be cold with highs only topping out near the freezing mark.

Some flurries will be possible early. Best chances for snow come from 11:00am into the first part of the evening. Some light snow will then be possible throughout the night. The worst of the activity will be to our north and east so Thornton should only see about an inch of snow between now and tomorrow morning. There is just the slightest chance for more if a snow band were to move far enough south.

Overnight lows tonight will drop to the mid-20s.

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Christmas weekend in Thornton to offer overall mild, dry weather conditions

Thursday, December 24th, 2020 5:24am MST

It won’t be a white Christmas for us this year as we expect most of the four-day period to feature above normal temperatures. There is but one, very slight chance for a bit of the white stuff later in the period.

Christmas Eve will see high temperatures near 50 with lots of sun above. Some breezy winds will make an appearance this afternoon. Tonight, skies will be clear with overnight lows in the mid-20s so Santa will have no problem making his deliveries.

Christmas Day will be quite mild as highs climb to the mid to upper 50s with sunny skies. Friday night, a few clouds will build and overnight lows drop to the mid-20s.

Saturday will continue the warmth with highs again in the mid-50s but with some additional cloud cover as a front is set to arrive later in the day and overnight. Saturday night, winds will pick up and we may see a bit of snow but, at this time, no accumulation is expected.

Sunday closes out the period with mercury readings closer to normal under mostly sunny skies.

We wish you all a very blessed and safe Christmas!

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Denver’s Christmas weather not usually white

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 5:12am MST

As Christmas gets closer everyone always wonders if we are going to get the proverbial white Christmas. Unfortunately, if you look at Denver and Thornton weather history, the chances aren’t all that good but it also depends on what you define as a white Christmas.

If to you a white Christmas 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.

White Christmas probability map for the contiguous United States. Click for larger view. (NOAA)

White Christmas probability map for the contiguous United States. Click for larger view. (NOAA)

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Wednesday continues with the wind, temperatures to be much colder

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020 5:09am MST

Yesterday we had warm temperatures and wind. Today sees the wind continue but temps will be almost 40 degrees colder making for a pretty uncomfortable day outside.

Mostly sunny skies will be the general rule for much of the day with the mid to late afternoon bringing clearing skies. Temperatures today will likely not even reach the freezing mark, topping out near 30 degrees. It will be quite windy with gusts to 40mph or so being possible for much of the day. Speeds will gradually start slowing down by mid-afternoon.

Tonight, skies will be mostly clear with lows dropping into the teens early, then warming slightly after midnight. Winds will, finally, be calm overnight although it will become breezy again in the pre-dawn hours tomorrow.

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December 20 to December 26: This week in Denver weather history

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 5:16am MST

This Week in Denver Weather History

The week leading up to Christmas is hectic enough but when you through in extreme weather, it can be overwhelming.  This week marks a number of notable weather events in Denver weather history but two stand out.  Most recently was the storm three years ago that became the seventh biggest snowstorm in Denver weather history.  Of course probably the most memorable for longtime Denver residents is the Christmas Eve storm of 1982 that buried the city for the holiday and for days afterwards.

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.

18-21

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.

19-20

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.

20-22

In 1933…strong downslope winds produced a warm spell. Low temperatures of 43 degrees on both the 20th and 21st and 41 degrees on the 22nd were record high minimums for those dates.  High temperature of 67 degrees on the 21st was a record maximum for the date.  High temperatures of 56 degrees on the 20th and 69 degrees on the 22nd were not records; however…the 69 degrees was the warmest of the month.  West to northwest winds were sustained to 20 and 24 mph on the 21st and 22nd respectively.

20-23

In 1918…light snowfall on each day totaled 12.0 inches over downtown Denver.  Northeast winds were sustained to 16 mph on the 21st.
20-25 in 1983…an extremely bitter cold spell occurred.  The temperature remained below zero for 115 hours in Denver… The longest sub-zero period on record.  The mercury dipped to 21 degrees below zero on the 21st…the coldest recorded temperature in over 20 years.  The cold was accompanied by winds that plunged chill factors to 50 to 70 degrees below zero.  Two people froze to death in Denver; both were found outside dead of exposure.  Numerous cases of frostbite were reported.  Hundreds of water pipes broke from the intense cold…water mains and natural gas lines also fractured…and electricity consumption reached record levels.  Light snow totaling 5.8 inches fell at times…and holiday traffic was delayed at Stapleton International Airport for several hours.  Eight daily temperature records were set at the time.  The all-time record low maximum temperature for the month of 8 degrees below zero on the 21st still stands today.  Other temperature records still standing include record low maximum temperatures of 5 degrees below zero on both the 22nd and 23rd and 4 degrees below zero on the 24th.

21

In 1884…light snow fell from an apparent cloudless sky between 4:15 am and 5:00 am.  Snowfall totaled 3.5 inches for the day.

In 1900…west winds sustained to 46 mph with gusts to 54 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 59 degrees.

In 1910…heavy snowfall totaled 8.0 inches in downtown Denver.  Northwest winds were sustained to 25 mph.

In 1961…strong winds associated with a cold front whipped snow across metro Denver.  West wind gusts to 62 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport.  There was considerable damage to power lines…signs…and Christmas decorations. In Denver…4 people were injured by wind-caused accidents. Two small planes were flipped over at Stapleton Airport while attempting to land.  Only a trace of snow fell at Stapleton Airport.

In 1983…the high temperature climbed to only 8 degrees below zero at Stapleton International Airport.  This set the record for the lowest maximum temperature of the month.

In 1987…strong winds howled in the foothills and in Boulder. Wind gusts reached 78 mph in east Boulder…85 mph at Table Mesa in southwest Boulder…93 mph near Rollinsville…and 97 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.  West winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

21-22

In 1969…strong winds raked the eastern foothills in Boulder and Jefferson counties.  Wind gusts to 115 mph were recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder…while in downtown Boulder winds gusted to 75 mph. Some damage occurred.

In 1981…a snow storm dumped 3 to 8 inches of snow across eastern Colorado.  Snowfall totaled 6.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to only 17 mph.

In 2011…large scale lift from an upper level low combined with a deep easterly upslope flow behind a cold front to produce heavy snow in and near the Front Range foothills and palmer divide. Storm totals ranged from 1.5 to 3 feet in the Front Range foothills…with 1 to 1.5 feet along the urban corridor. In the Front Range foothills and Palmer Divide…storm totals included: 36.5 inches… 7 miles southwest of Boulder; 32 inches…12 miles northwest of Golden; 28 inches at Genesee; 24.5 inches…3 miles west of Jamestown; 23 inches at Bergen Park; 21 inches at Evergreen and Gross Reservoir; 19 inches near Eldorado Springs and 3 miles west-southwest of Conifer; 17 inches…4 miles south- southwest of Tiny Town; and 13.5 inches…15 miles north of Elizabeth. Along the urban corridor…storm totals included: 18 inches in Golden; 14.5 inches in Boulder…13 inches at the National Weather Service in Boulder; 12.5 inches…5 miles south-southwest of Arapahoe park; 12 inches at Lone Tree; 11.5 inches in Broomfield; 11 inches in Arvada…4 miles northwest of Elbert…Niwot and Wheatridge; 10 inches in northwest Denver; with 7.3 inches at Denver International Airport.

21-23

In 1924…heavy snowfall totaled 7.9 inches over downtown Denver.  During the storm north to northeast winds were sustained to 21 mph.  Temperatures were quite cold…ranging from a high of 24 degrees on the 21st to a low of 5 degrees below zero on the 23rd.

In 1964…high winds were recorded along the eastern foothills.  A wind gust to 100 mph was registered at Jefferson County airport near Broomfield.  In Boulder… Where many thousands of dollars in damage occurred…warm Chinook winds gusted in excess of 45 mph downtown.  A wind gust to 82 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.  Heavy damage to power lines…homes…and roads was reported at Evergreen…Golden… And Boulder.  Several people were injured by wind-caused accidents.  West winds gusted to 53 mph on the 22nd and to 51 mph on the 23rd at Stapleton International Airport where some blowing dust occurred.  The Chinook winds warmed temperatures in Denver to highs of 68 degrees on the 22nd and 71 degrees on the 23rd.

22

In 1885…a windstorm produced sustained west winds to 48 mph. The winds were strong all afternoon and evening.

In 1892…terribly strong winds hit the foothills above Boulder.  The wind was described as a young tornado…but likely was straight line in nature.  Winds in Boulder remained calm.

In 1901…the passage of an apparent cold front produced north winds sustained to 48 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph.

In 1922…a major storm dumped 8.0 inches of snow in downtown Denver.

In 1941…post-frontal heavy snow fell over downtown Denver where 8.0 inches of new snow were measured.  Northwest winds were sustained to 26 mph.  The cold front and snowfall abruptly broke a week of warm weather with high temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s.

In 1977…high winds unroofed a mobile home in Broomfield. Wind gusts reached 93 mph at Table Mesa in south Boulder and 74 mph at Rocky Flats.  West winds gusted to 52 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1988…high winds hit many foothills areas.  Recorded wind gusts reached 95 mph just north of Boulder and 80 mph on Table Mesa.  The strong winds caused power outages around Boulder.  West winds gusted to 45 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1990…the all-time lowest recorded temperature in December… 25 degrees below zero…occurred.  The same temperature was also reached on December 24…1876.

22-23

In 1926…snow was heavy and totaled 6.7 inches in downtown Denver.  Northeast winds were sustained to 17 mph with gusts to 18 mph on the 23rd.

In 1979…heavy snow blanketed metro Denver.  Total snowfall at Stapleton International Airport was 6.9 inches…and north winds gusted to 20 mph.  Most of the snow…5.7 inches…fell on the 22nd.

In 1984…strong Chinook winds howled along the Front Range foothills.  At Table Mesa in southwest Boulder…gusts reached 108 mph on the morning of the 23rd.  Gusts to 79 mph were clocked in Golden gate canyon.  Gusts to 94 mph were reported in east Boulder.  The winds flattened a two floor cinder block building under construction in Boulder… Causing 75 thousand dollars damage.  Flying debris from the building slightly injured a policeman.  A chain link fence was blown down.  Dozens of windows and roofs were damaged in Boulder…along with mobile homes and cars. Numerous trees and power lines were downed.  A giant plastic bubble dome was blown apart and collapsed…causing at least 100 thousand dollars damage.  West winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 23rd.

22-24

In 2009…a winter storm produced moderate to heavy snow across parts of the Front Range and adjacent plains. In the foothills…storm totals included: 11.5 inches near Eldorado Springs…10 inches… 3 miles southeast of Pinecliffe; 9 inches at Genesee…2 miles southwest of Golden and Ken Caryl; 8 inches…3 miles west of Jamestown and White Ranch Open Space; 7 inches…4 miles east- northeast of Nederland. Across the urban corridor and adjacent plains…storm totals included: 9 inches… 2 miles west of Parker; 8 inches at Watkins; 7 inches…2 miles west-southwest of Byers…12 miles southwest of Buckley AFB and 3 miles northeast of Parker. At Denver International Airport…6.1 inches of snowfall was observed.

» Click here to read the rest of December 20 to December 26: This week in Denver weather history

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Thornton’s Tuesday to offer mild conditions but blustery winds as well

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020 5:12am MST

A bit of good and bad in today’s weather forecast. While we will enjoy temperatures well-above normal, a passing trough is going to bring some strong winds throughout the day and tonight.

Clear skies start us off then we will see a few clouds as the morning progresses leading to mostly sunny skies in the afternoon. Winds will start out light but soon be picking up speed with gusts to 30mph possible this afternoon. Temperatures will be well above the average high for the date of 42 degrees, topping out near the 60 degree mark.

This evening, wind speeds will again start to ramp up with gusts to 45mph or higher possible in the overnight hours. Skies will be partly cloudy and overnight lows will dip to around 20 degrees.

 

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First day of winter brings mild temperatures, plenty of sun to Thornton

Monday, December 21st, 2020 5:16am MST

Winter arrived this morning at 3:02am and thus the winter solstice is here with the shortest day of the year. Mother Nature is going to give us a relatively nice day to start off the season.

Mostly clear skies and breezy winds start us off early this morning. The winds will ease though and what clouds there are will gradually dissipate through the day. Highs today will be well above normal and top out in the mid-50s, aided by some downslope wind.

Tonight, skies will be clear with overnight lows dropping to the mid to upper 20s.

Keep an eye on the temps and wind speeds here.

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