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Thornton’s October 2020 preview: Cooler, calm conditions typical for the first full month of fall

Monday, October 5th, 2020 5:09am MST

Thornton, Colorado October weather preview.With the first full month of fall here, October usually brings one of the quietest weather months in the Denver area with plenty of mild, sunny days and clear, cool nights.

October is historically the second sunniest month and conditions are generally calm.

However we also will usually see our first taste of winter during the month with the first freeze and first snowfall of the season.  Temperatures as well will start to drop and by the end of the month the average nighttime lows are below freezing.

For complete details on our historical October weather and what we can expect in the coming month, read our complete October weather preview here.

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October 4 to October 10: This week in Denver weather history

Sunday, October 4th, 2020 5:42am MST

This Week in Denver Weather History

A very eventful week in Denver weather history with a wide variety of events from snow to summer-like severe weather. Most notable is five years ago today when multiple tornadoes touched down in the Brighton area.  Read more about all the events below and scroll to a bottom for videos of the 2004 tornadoes.

From the National Weather Service:

From the 3rd to the 4th:

In 1969…the first snowfall of the season totaled 16.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport. There was a thunder snow shower on the evening of the 3rd…but otherwise little wind with the storm. The greatest snow depth on the ground was 8 inches due to melting. Heavy wet snow accumulated on trees…which were still in full leaf…and caused widespread damage from broken limbs and downed utility lines.

From the 3rd to the 5th:

In 1984…the remnants of pacific hurricane polo produced heavy rain over northeastern Colorado. Most locations received between 1.00 to 2.50 inches of rain…but 3.45 inches fell in Littleton. Rainfall totaled 1.73 inches at Stapleton International Airport…where north winds gusted to 24 mph.

On the 4th:

In 1912…sustained south winds to 55 mph with gusts to 60 mph raised the temperature to a high of 83 degrees… The warmest temperature of the month that year.

In 1924…west winds were sustained to 46 mph with gusts to 50 mph in the city. The apparent Bora winds cooled the temperature to a high of 57 degrees from a high of 70 degrees on the 3rd.

In 2004…several small tornadoes touched down near Brighton… Barr lake…and Hudson in Adams and southern weld counties. Most of these caused no damage. However…a small tornado 5 miles southeast of Brighton caused extensive damage to a recreational vehicle and severely damaged a barn. The barn was torn from its foundation…and the roof was thrown 100 feet. Four llamas in the barn were injured when it collapsed.

From the 4th to the 5th:

In 1997…unusually warm weather resulted in two temperature records. High temperature of 87 degrees on the 4th exceeded the old record set in 1922 by one degree. High temperature of 86 degrees on the 5th equaled the record set in 1990 and previous years.

On the 5th:

In 1962…unusually severe thunderstorms for this late in the season affected areas from Boulder northward. Hail up to golf ball size and strong gusty winds did much damage to roofs…windows…and signs in Boulder. Heavy rainfall caused local flooding.

In 1994…lightning caused a power outage to over 2400 homes for a few hours in and around Nederland in the foothills southwest of Boulder. Very strong winds accompanied the thunderstorm. Thunderstorm winds gusted to 60 mph and hail to 1/2 inch diameter fell in Lafayette. Strong microburst winds gusting to 69 mph near Strasburg caused an oil rig to topple onto two vehicles…injuring one person. The strong winds in the area also downed a few power poles… But caused power outages to only a few homes.

In 1995…strong winds spread from the foothills onto the plains. Wind gusts to 77 mph were reported atop squaw mountain west of Denver. On the plains…winds gusted to 60 mph at Kennesburg and to 62 mph near Strasburg. North winds gusted to 41 mph at Denver International Airport.

On the 6th:

In 1900…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts as high as 50 mph in downtown Denver.

In 1903…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 50 mph. The strong winds warmed the temperature to a high of 71 degrees in the city. The low reading was only 46 degrees.

In 1910…light smoke from forest fires drifted over the city.

In 1976…an arctic cold front brought light snow over the foothills above 6 thousand feet. Traffic was snarled at many locations. Only a trace of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where rainfall totaled 0.20 inch and northeast winds gusted to 41 mph.

In 1991…the brilliant orange sunset was apparently the result of an extensive volcanic smoke layer in the upper atmosphere.

In 1994…strong west to northwest winds developed in the foothills above 9500 feet. A wind gust to 78 mph was recorded atop squaw mountain west of Denver and to 72 mph at ward northwest of Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2011…strong winds developed in and around the Denver area ahead of an approaching storm system. At the National Wind Technology Center…peak wind gusts ranged from 79 to 92 mph during the early morning hours. Across metro Denver…the strong winds toppled a few trees and damaged patio furniture. The wind caused a few flight delays at Denver International Airport due to a partial ground stoppage of incoming flights. Peak wind reports also included: 66 mph at Cedar Point…63 mph at Denver International Airport…60 mph at Buckley Air Force Base; 59 mph at Highlands Ranch; 58 mph at Deer Trail and Rocky Mountain Metro Airport in Broomfield; 55 mph at Bennett…Centennial Airport and City Park in Denver.

On the 7th:

In 1903…north winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph.

In 1917…post-frontal northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 52 mph. Rain was mixed with a trace of snow…the first of the season. Precipitation totaled 0.22 inch and included the occurrence of hail even though no thunder was heard.

In 1950…strong winds caused a power outage in Boulder. This was the heaviest windstorm since January. Damage was minor. Northwest winds gusted to only 35 mph at Stapleton Airport.

In 1985…strong Chinook winds buffeted the Front Range foothills. Wind gusts between 60 and 70 mph were reported in Boulder and atop squaw mountain west of Denver. Southwest winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

From the 7th to the 8th:

In 1990…the season’s first snow occurred. Snowfall amounts varied from 3 to 7 inches across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 4.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 29 mph.

» Click here to read the rest of October 4 to October 10: This week in Denver weather history

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Thornton’s weekend weather offers mild temperatures, calm and dry conditions

Friday, October 2nd, 2020 5:51am MST

The first weekend of October is going to largely continue the same pattern of recent weeks. Warmer than normal temperatures will start us off and while it will cool Saturday, Sunday warms right back up.

For today, partly sunny skies will be above with periods of wildfire smoke, particularly in the afternoon and evening. Highs will be in the mid-70s. Tonight, a weak cold front moves through and the smoke will settle and skies will clear. Overnight lows will dip to the low 40s.

In the wake of the front, Saturday will be cooler with highs in the mid to upper 60s. Conditions will be calm and dry under sunny to mostly sunny skies. Saturday night into Sunday morning, skies will be mostly clear with lows near 40 degrees.

Sunday brings the warmth back with sunny skies and highs pushing to the upper 70s.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Cooler temperatures, calm conditions for Thornton’s Thursday

Thursday, October 1st, 2020 4:21am MST

A pretty nice day today although temperatures will tip toward the cool side of things.

Look for sunny skies throughout most of the day with areas of haze from wildfire smoke. Conditions will be calm and dry. Highs will top out in the mid to upper 60s.

Tonight, partly clear skies will be above with overnight lows in the low 40s.

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September 2020 top shots: Monthly photo slideshow

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 4:23pm MST
Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire makes for a beautiful sunset. (John Stavola)

Smoke from the Cameron Peak Fire makes for a beautiful sunset. (John Stavola)

The month of September is typically one of the more pleasant months in Colorado.  Temperatures are usually comfortable and there is not normally a lot of weather drama.  That however does not mean there aren’t plenty of photo opportunities.

Wildlife is still quite active along the Front Range and flowers will hold on to their petals for at least the first part of the month.  Then of course there is the weather which you never know what to expect.  Thunderstorms, heavy rain, and even snow are a possibility.

  • Slideshow updated October 1, 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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Warm temperatures, calm conditions for Thornton’s Wednesday

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020 5:53am MST

A very pleasant day ahead for us with seasonal temperatures and lots of sun.

Sunny skies start us off and will be with us throughout the day. We may see some haze from the wildfires. Overall conditions will be calm and dry. Highs today will top out in the mid-70s, a bit above the average high for the date of 72 degrees.

Tonight, skies will remain clear with overnight lows in the low 40s.

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Fall colors 2020: When and where to go for leaf peeping

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 7:34am MST
Rocky Mountain National Park is a prime spot for viewing the fall foliage. (Tony's Takes)

Rocky Mountain National Park is a prime spot for viewing the fall foliage. (Tony’s Takes)

This time of year many folks start thinking about heading to the hills west of Denver in search of gold – fall foliage gold.

Where to go?  Below are five of ThorntonWeather.com’s favorite ones near Denver – plus a few further out and some bonus ideas.  After that, we will tell you where you can find a great website that provides regular updates on viewing conditions.

I-70 Corridor – If you’re looking for the easiest route, then this one is for you.  Simply head west on I-70 about 110 miles to Avon.  Between Vail and Avon, both sides of I-70 are lined beautifully with aspen.

Rocky Mountain National Park – One of the most popular summer destinations in the state is of course also a prime spot to view aspen in all their glory.  Once in the park head toward Bear Lake.  Glacier Gorge Junction provides a beautiful spot and you of course also get to enjoy all the splendor that Rocky Mountain National Park has to offer.  Extend your viewing by taking Trail Ridge Road all the way through to the west side of the park and the Grand Lake and Granby area.

Peak to Peak Highway – This little road trip can be a dual purpose trip – gambling and fall foliage viewing!  Take U.S. 6 through Clear Creek Canyon and then 119 through Blackhawk and Central City.  You can of course stop there if your wallet is fat enough and donate some money to the casinos.  From there continue on 119 toward Nederland.  Take highway 72 toward Ward and Allenspark.  There you will find more golden aspen than you can imagine, all with the Continental Divide nearby.

Colorado Fall Foliage - Average Date of Peak Aspen Colors. Click for larger view. (ThorntonWeather.com)

Colorado Fall Foliage – Average Date of Peak Aspen Colors. Click for larger view. (ThorntonWeather.com)

Poudre Valley Canyon –  Heading north on I-25 take Colorado 14 west and into Poudre Canyon and Roosevelt National Forest.  As you continue west you will come very near timberline as you come to Cameron Pass.  Amazing views abound!

Guanella Pass – This is a nice, relatively short drive from Denver.  From C470 take 85 through Bailey and Conifer, a nice drive unto itself.  When you come to the town of Grant, take the Guanella Pass Scenic and Historic Byway north to Georgetown.  The air is pretty thin along the way as you climb in excess of 11,500 views through the Pike and Arapahoe National Forests.

A couple other possibilities further from the Front Range:

Leadville / Aspen – From Denver take I-70 west to Copper Mountain and then Colorado 91 south over Freemont Pass to Leadville. Along the way there are plenty of viewing opportunities and Leadville is a nice little town to make a stop. From here you can take Highway 24 north back through Minturn and Vail. To extend the drive, take Highway 24 south to Colorado 82 and head toward Aspen. You can stop by the Maroon Bells in White River National Forest to view some of the most photographed mountains in Colorado.

Cottonwood Pass – From Denver take Highway 285 to Buena Vista. Head west on Main Street for seven miles then west on County Road 344 / Colorado 82. From there you start the climb up Cottonwood Pass with absolutely stunning views from the top. If you are up for it, you can continue down the west side of the pass into the Taylor Park area.

Honorable mentions worth considering:

  • Boreas Pass between Breckenridge and Como (County Road 10)
  • Kenosha Pass on Highway 285 between Bailey and Fairplay
  • Independence Pass (Colorado 82 between Aspen and Twin Lakes)
  • Colorado 103 from Evergreen to Echo Lake. Throw in a drive up Mount Evans for a bonus.

If you do head out, be sure to send us your pictures for inclusion in our monthly photo slideshows!

For more information:

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Tuesday brings mild temperatures, lots of sun, calm conditions

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020 4:51am MST

Yesterday’s cool temperatures will give way today to warmer than normal readings. In addition to the mild temperatures, there will be clear skies above and conditions will be calm.

Sunny skies start us off this morning and will remain with us throughout the day. Winds will be light, conditions calm and dry. Highs today will top out right near the 80 degree mark, a good bit above the average high for the date of 73 degrees.

Tonight, skies remain clear and lows will dip to the mid-40s.

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Cool temperatures, dry conditions start off Thornton’s workweek

Monday, September 28th, 2020 6:01am MST

The effects of yesterday’s cold front are going to linger with us for one more day. Monday will offer lots of sun but with cool, fall-like temperatures and some breezy winds.

Sunny skies will be the general rules for the day but we do expect to see some haze from wildfire smoke this afternoon. Winds will be light this morning then a bit breezy and out of the north in the afternoon. High temperatures today will reach the low to mid-60s.

Tonight, under clear skies, lows will drop to the low 40s.

Looking ahead at the rest of the workweek, calm, dry conditions will continue to be the rule but temperatures will be warming and be quite pleasant. Details in the extended forecast here.

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September 27 to October 3: This week in Denver weather history

Sunday, September 27th, 2020 6:02am MST

This Week in Denver Weather History

With the end of summer and the arrival of fall, looking back at Denver weather history we start to see more mentions of snow.  It is of course not the only notable weather event this time of year.  We still have received severe thunderstorms, damaging winds, and 90 degree plus heat.

From the National Weather Service:

From the 25th to the 27th:

in 1996…an early season snowstorm brought heavy snow to the Front Range eastern foothills.  Snowfall totals included:  8 to 12 inches around Conifer…7 inches on Floyd Hill…and 6 inches at both bailey and Chief Hosa. Snowfall totaled only 4.7 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.  This was the first measurable snow of the season.  After the passage of a strong cold front…north winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport on the 25th.

From the 26th to the 28th:

In 1936…the heaviest snowfall ever recorded in September and the heaviest snowfall ever recorded so early in the season dumped a total of 16.5 inches of snow on downtown Denver and 21.3 inches at Denver municipal airport.  The 15.0 inches of snow measured from 6:00 pm on the 27th to 6:00 pm on the 28th is the greatest 24 hour snowfall ever recorded in September.  This was the first snow of the season.  The snow was intermittent through the 26th…but continuous from early afternoon on the 27th to around midnight on the 28th…except for a period of rain during the afternoon of the 28th which contributed to a loss of depth on the ground.  The greatest snow depth on the ground downtown was 13 inches with 8 inches at Denver municipal airport.  There were no high winds with the storm and traffic was interrupted for only a short period.  The storm produced property damage estimated at 7 million dollars.  With trees and shrubs in full foliage…the leaves caught and held the heavy water-laden snow…until the branches snapped from the weight.  More than 3000 workmen were called to remove the debris and snow from the city.  The city firemen who were off duty…as well as all the reserves… Were asked to report to their stations.  All schools in the city remained open…but attendance was only 50 percent of normal.  Grade school students were sent home at noon on the 28th.  The early storm caught stockmen with many cattle still in higher ranges.  Warm weather followed the snow…which had all melted by the end of the month…except for a few inches in sheltered places.

On the 27th:

In 1877…smoke from heavy forest fires in the mountains spread over the city on upper wind currents.

In 1935…the first snow of the season was 2.8 inches in downtown Denver.  The low temperature dipped to 31 degrees for the first freeze of the season.

From the 27th to the 28th:

In 1984…heavy snow fell over the plains and foothills. Snowfall amounts ranged from 2 to 5 inches on the plains with up to a foot at higher elevations in the foothills. The main problem caused by the storm was thousands of power outages caused by snow-laden tree limbs snapping and falling onto power lines.  Over 15 thousand homes lost power in metro Denver.  Some cars were damaged by falling trees and limbs.  The snow also caused some flight delays at Stapleton International Airport where 5.1 inches of snow fell and northeast winds gusted to 29 mph.  Maximum snow depth on the ground was 3 inches due to melting.  The high temperature of only 34 degrees on the 28th was a record low maximum for the date and equaled the all-time record for the month at that time.

On the 28th:

In 1877…heavy dense smoke from mountain forest fires spread over the city.  The smoke was so dense that it obscured the sun at times.

In 1921…post-frontal northeast winds were sustained to 44 mph.

In 1953…a pacific cold front produced a west wind gust to 59 mph at Stapleton Airport where the visibility was briefly reduced to 3/4 miles in blowing dust.  Strong winds were also widespread over Boulder during the afternoon.

In 1960…strong…gusty winds tore the roof from 6 units of a motel on west Colfax Avenue in Denver.  The roofing sailed over the building and crashed down on a truck…wrecking it. The strong winds were the result of an apparent microburst.

In 1999…snow fell in the foothills west of metro Denver and over the plains.  Snowfall totals included 7 inches at Conifer.  At the site of the former Stapleton International Airport…3.1 inches of snow were measured.  This was the first snow of the season.  The heavy wet snow snapped branches from fully leafed trees…downing power lines and causing scattered outages.

In 2004…severe thunderstorms produced hail to 3/4 inch in diameter in Littleton and in Douglas County 14 miles northwest of Castle Rock.

In 2012…a weak tornado (ef-0) tornado touched down near Strasburg. No damage was reported.

From the 28th to the 29th:

In 1959…one of the heaviest September snow storms of record began as rain and changed to heavy wet snow.  The storm caused heavy damage to trees and shrubbery…which were still in full leaf.  The storm dumped 10.6 inches of snow at Stapleton Airport…the third heaviest September snow amount to date.  Falling trees and limbs disrupted traffic…broke power and communication lines…and damaged buildings and cars.  One man was killed in Denver by a falling tree limb…and four others died of heart attacks while shoveling snow or trying to move heavy tree limbs.  Direct costs of the storm for cleaning up debris…repairing utility lines…and damage to buildings and other property across all of eastern Colorado were estimated to be over a half million dollars.  The value of trees destroyed or damaged was estimated to exceed five million dollars.  North-northeast winds gusted to 32 mph at Stapleton Airport on the 28th.

In 1985…an unusually cold air mass for this time of year settled over the area.  Metro Denver received 8 to 12 inches of powdery snow.  The 8.7 inches of snow that fell at Stapleton International Airport was the first measurable snow of the season and the city’s heaviest September snowfall since 1971.  The snow caused flight delays of over 2 hours at Stapleton International Airport. I-70 was closed for a time west of Denver.  Snow-laden tree limbs snapped over all of metro Denver…causing widespread power outages.  Ten thousand people were without electricity for a time in Boulder.  The morning of the 29th saw mid-winter temperatures along the Front Range.  The temperature dipped to 17 degrees…the lowest temperature ever recorded in September in Denver.  The high temperature of only 29 degrees on the 29th was a new record low maximum for the date and lowest ever recorded during the month of September.  The low temperature of 21 degrees on the evening of the 28th set a new record low for the date.  The cold weather persisted through the 1st with record minimum temperatures of 25 degrees set on the 30th and 27 degrees set on October 1st.

On the 29th:

In 1966…a vigorous cold front moved thru metro Denver. North winds gusting to 51 mph kicked up billows of blowing dust…which briefly reduced the visibility to 1 mile at Stapleton International Airport.  The cold air caused temperatures to drop rapidly from a high of 86 degrees to a low of 46 degrees by days end.

In 1985…the lowest temperature ever recorded in September… 17 degrees…occurred.  The high temperature warmed to only 29 degrees…the all-time record low maximum for the month.

In 1994…the temperature reached a high of 91 degrees at Stapleton International Airport.  This was the 60th day of the year that the temperature had reached 90 degrees or more…establishing a new record at that time.  The previous record of 52 “90 degree days” occurred in 1978. Only 43 “90 degree days” were recorded at Denver International Airport during 1994.

In 1995…lightning struck a couple in Aurora as they were walking in the rain.  The bolt struck the umbrella the man was carrying…injuring both the man and his wife.

In 2000…late afternoon thunderstorms produced strong wind gusts to 76 mph in Westminster…to 69 mph near Boulder…and to 60 mph at Jefferson County airport near Broomfield.  No damage was reported.

In 2014…a storm system that moved through the area produced large hail and street flooding in parts of metro Denver and then spread east into the plains. The storm also caused multiple accidents. A semi became detached from a trailer… Blocking traffic on westbound Interstate 70 west of Tower Road. Downed power poles blocked a roadway on CO 79 near Bennett…at mile marker 10. In addition to the damaging winds…the storms produced large hail… From nickel to golfball size across southern and eastern portions of metro Denver. The hailstorm was the most damaging of the 2014 summer season…with insured losses that topped 213 million dollars. Insurance claims included 29297 automobile claims worth more than 87.2 million dollars and 14287 property claims for 126 million dollars…ranking the storm as the eighth most expensive to hit the state. At Denver International Airport…1.01 inches of rainfall was recorded which was the greatest 24-hr rainfall for the date. In addition…a peak wind gust to 38 mph was observed at the airport.

In 2015…severe thunderstorms developed over the foothills of Boulder County and Jefferson Counties…then moved south along the western suburbs of Denver. Areas north of Golden… around Lakewood and into northern Douglas County saw the heaviest rain and hail. The hail ranged in size from nickel to ping pong size.

On the 30th: » Click here to read the rest of September 27 to October 3: This week in Denver weather history

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