February 5 to February 11: This week in Denver weather history
February is generally a relatively calm weather month however just like any other month in Denver, it can and does see its extremes. In looking back at the Denver weather history calendar for the week, there are many entries for damaging wind, some heavy snowfall and extreme cold.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1985…a cold front on the 29th produced a protracted cold spell as arctic air remained entrenched across metro Denver. While the only daily temperature record set was a low maximum reading of 2 degrees on February 3rd…minimum temperatures plunged well below zero on 9 consecutive days. The coldest readings were 15 degrees below zero on January 31st and 14 degrees below zero on February 5th.
In 1963…warm weather that began with the strong Chinook winds on the 31st and 1st continued through the 8th. Maximum temperatures through the period ranged from 52 degrees on the 2nd to 76 degrees on the 5th…which was a new record high for that date.
In 1899…a protracted cold spell lasted almost two weeks. Low temperatures plunged below zero on all days but February 9th with a reading of 6 degrees. The coldest low temperature of 22 degrees below zero on February 6th was a record low for the date. Low temperatures of 20 degrees below zero occurred on both February 11th and 12th… But only the 11th remains as the record minimum for the date. High temperature of only 5 degrees below zero on February 11th was a record low maximum for the date. High temperatures climbed to only zero degrees on both February 2nd and 3rd…but were not records. Intermittent light snow or flurries fell during the period. The most snowfall…2.0 inches…occurred on February 2nd.
In 1985…the most bitter cold spell of the winter season brought sub-zero temperatures to metro Denver. Daily low temperature records were broken at Denver. The usual cold weather problems struck including stalled vehicles…jammed traffic lights…and frozen water and sewer lines. At Stapleton International Airport…the high temperature was only 2 degrees above zero on the 1st…setting a record low maximum for the date. Low temperatures reached 13 below zero on the 1st…12 below on the third…and 14 below on the 5th.
In 1989…one of the century’s worst doses of winter weather ravaged the entire state. Bitterly frigid weather moved into metro Denver on the 1st as snow buried many sections of the state. In metro Denver where 3 to 6 inches of snow fell…blowing snow and resultant poor visibilities caused a 46-car pile-up on I-25 in the middle of the city on the 4th. During the period…2 to 3 hour delays were common at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall from the storm totaled 4.3 inches and northeast winds gusted to 30 mph on the 1st. Intense cold accompanied the storm. Temperatures in Denver stayed below zero continuously for the best part of 3 days (3rd…4th…5th)…for a total of 69 hours. This is the fourth longest sub-zero period on record. Wind chill temperatures reached 50 degrees below zero. The mercury dipped to 24 degrees below zero on the 5th…setting a record for the date. This was the city’s coldest temperature in over 26 years. Low temperatures dipped below zero on 8 consecutive days (2nd-9th). High temperature of 9 degrees below zero on the 4th was a record low maximum for the date…as was the high of 5 degrees on the 5th. Extensive damage occurred when pipes and water lines froze and broke. Thousands of cars failed to start. On the 3rd…a 57-year-old woman died of hypothermia in an Arvada park. Eighteen high school students were treated for hypothermia after a 2-hour ride through Jefferson County in an unheated bus. At least 2 cases of frostbite were reported; there were undoubtedly many more.
In 1883…a protracted cold period occurred when low temperatures dipped below zero for 9 consecutive days. Low temperatures ranged from 22 degrees below zero on the 4th to 2 degrees below zero on the 1st and 6th. High temperatures ranged from 10 below zero on the 3rd to 23 on the 9th. Several temperature records were set that still stand today. Record lows of 18 below and 22 below zero occurred on the 3rd and 4th. Record low maximum readings of 2 below and 10 below zero occurred on the 2nd and 3rd. The high of only 10 below zero on the 3rd is the coldest maximum temperature ever recorded in Denver.
In 1982…a cold surge of arctic air brought light snow and sub-zero temperatures to metro Denver. Temperatures plunged to 6 below zero at midnight on the 3rd and never warmed above zero on the 4th as snow flurries continued. High temperature on the 4th of 1 below zero was a record low maximum. The temperature dipped to a record low of 15 below zero on the 5th.
In 1932…wind gusts estimated at 70 mph occurred in Boulder. A 60 mph wind gust was recorded to the east of Boulder in Valmont. Damage was minor.
In 1959…heavy snowfall totaled 5.8 inches at Stapleton Airport where northwest winds gusted to 30 mph on the 4th.
In 2001…high winds developed for a brief time overnight. Winds gusted to 75 mph atop the Gamow Tower on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder. Northwest winds gusting to 37 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 57 degrees at Denver International Airport.
In 1986…10 inches of snow fell in Boulder…in the foothill town of Wondervu southwest of Boulder…and at Evergreen west of Denver. Snowfall totaled 2.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport…where north winds gusted to 20 mph on the 6th.
In 1885…west winds were sustained to 42 mph in the city near daybreak.
In 1902…northwest winds sustained to 48 mph with gusts to 53 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 53 degrees.
In 2006…high winds developed briefly along the foothills… Extending from Golden to near Boulder. Peak wind reports included 92 mph at the National Wind Technology Center on Rocky Flats with a gust to 84 mph in Golden. North winds gusted to 43 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2011…heavy snow fell in the foothills of Douglas… Jefferson and Park counties. Storm totals included: 19 inches…3 miles southwest of Conifer; 17.5 inches…4 miles south-southeast of Pinecliffe; 14 inches…5 miles east-southeast of aspen park; 12.5 inches…7 miles southwest of Boulder and at Genesee; 12 inches at Strontia Springs dam…10.5 inches at Roxborough state park; and 10 inches…3 miles east-southeast of tiny town. In the western and southern Denver suburbs and palmer divide…storm totals included: 9 inches near Louviers and 3 miles south-southeast of Morrison; 8 inches at Ralston Reservoir…7 inches in Lakewood…6.5 inches…2 miles southeast of Highlands Ranch and 6 inches in Englewood. Snowfall totaled 1.2 inches at Denver International Airport.
In 2003…heavy snow fell in the foothills. Snowfall totals included: 17 inches at Genesee; 16 inches at Lookout Mountain; 11 inches at Chief Hosa near Indian Hills…and 7 miles southwest of Boulder; 10.5 inches atop gold hill; and 10 inches at Intercanyon and near Conifer. Only 2.2 inches of snowfall were measured in the city at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.
In 1978…the 5th marked the start of a record 7 consecutive days of dense fog at Stapleton International Airport. The heavy fog reduced the visibility to 1/4 mile or less for a period of time on each of these days. Light snow and/or freezing drizzle occurred on most days. Fog reducing visibility to less than 7 miles was recorded at Stapleton International Airport on 11 consecutive days through the 15th. During the period 5-14…the cold thick fog deposited heavy rime ice up to 5 inches thick on power lines and poles over a wide area of eastern Colorado…causing a major electrical power outage disaster.
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