Denver has yet to get a taste of wintry weather this year as we continue what has been a very dry period the last few months. In the past that hasn’t always been the case and our look back at this week in Denver weather history shows that heavy, winter-like snowstorms can and do strike in October.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1910…light smoke from forest fires in the mountains was sighted over the city.
In 1982…northwest winds gusted to 49 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 2005…a major winter storm brought heavy…wet snowfall to the Front Range mountains…eastern foothills…portions of metro Denver…and the Palmer Divide. Snow accumulations ranged from 8 to 26 inches with drifts from 3 to 4 feet in places. The heaviest snow occurred to the east and southeast of the city…closing most major highways in that area…including I-70 from Denver to Limon. The Red Cross opened four shelters for people who were stranded along I-70 in eastern Colorado. Since many trees had not yet shed their leaves…the storm caused significant tree damage. One woman in Denver was killed when a tree branch… 8 to 10 inches in diameter…snapped under the weight of the heavy…wet snow and struck her as she was shoveling her driveway. Xcel Energy reported power outages to about 35 thousand customers. Several incoming flights were delayed at Denver International Airport. Snow totals included: 16 inches in the foothills near Boulder…12 inches at Genesee and near Golden…22 inches near Watkins…19 inches near Bennett…17 inches southeast of Aurora…14 inches near Parker…13 inches near Castle Rock…12 inches in centennial… 11 inches in Parker…and 10 inches at Denver International Airport and in Littleton. While many areas of metro Denver received heavy snow…others experienced almost entirely rain. This included west and northwest metro Denver…Boulder…and Longmont. Rainfall amounts were significant as storm totals ranged between 1.50 and 2.50 inches. The steady rainfall triggered 3 rockslides in foothills canyons. Two of the slides occurred on State Highway 119 in Boulder Canyon and the longest slide…7 feet in length…on State Highway 74 in Bear Creek Canyon at Idledale. North winds were sustained to around 23 mph with gusts to 31 mph at Denver International Airport on the 9th. The high temperature of only 34 degrees on the 10th was a record low maximum for the date. The low temperature on both days was 32 degrees.
In 1901…an evening thunderstorm produced east winds to 43 mph with gusts to 48 mph.
In 1949…strong winds believed to be the worst in Boulder’s history at the time caused over 100 thousand dollars damage in the city. Peak winds were estimated to 85 mph at Valmont…just east of Boulder. High winds also occurred over most of metro Denver and caused damage to trees…window glass…and utility lines. The damage was most pronounced over the northwest metro area…including north Denver and Lakewood. Falling tree branches caused damage to parked autos and houses. Wind gusts to 70 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport.
In 1964…lightning struck and killed a 13-year-old boy…while he was riding his bicycle along a tree-lined residential street in south Denver. Apparent microburst winds gusted to 54 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1986…the first significant snowstorm of the season produced 2 to 5 inches of snow over metro Denver with 5 to 10 inches in the foothills west of Denver. Wondervu recorded the most snow from the storm…13 inches. The heavy wet snow caused numerous power outages. The storm was accompanied by strong north winds with gusts to 41 mph recorded on the 10th. The first snowfall of the season totaled 3.1 inches at Stapleton International Airport with only one inch on the ground due to melting. The strong cold front accompanying the storm cooled the temperature from a high of 73 degrees on the 10th to a high of only 33 degrees on the 11th…which was a record low maximum for the date.
In 1969…the second heavy snowstorm in less than a week dumped nearly a foot of snow across metro Denver and plunged the area into extremely cold temperatures for so early in the season. Snowfall totaled 11.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport. North winds gusting to 26 mph produced drifts up to 2 feet deep. Temperatures dipped from a high of 52 degrees on the 10th to a record low for the date of 10 degrees on the 12th. There was additional damage to trees and power and telephone lines from heavy snow accumulations and icing. Travel was restricted or blocked by drifting snow in both the mountains and on the plains east of Denver.
In 1997…damaging winds ahead of an approaching storm system developed in the foothills and spread across metro Denver. Winds gusted to 88 mph at conifer…71 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research on the mesa in Boulder… And 53 mph at Denver International Airport. Several trees and street signs were blown down with scattered power outages reported throughout metro Denver. In Arvada…a car window was blown out by a strong wind gust.
In 2013…high winds occurred in and near the Front Range Foothills. Peak gusts included: 85 mph at Rooney Road…84 mph…2 miles south of Marshall; 82 mph at Rocky Flats National Wind Technology Center and Wondervu; 79 mph at the Mesa Lab at NCAR and 75 mph…3 miles south-southwest of Boulder; 73 mph in Superior and 68 mph in Golden. The wind downed trees and power lines. As a result…scattered electrical outages affected 20000 Xcel Energy customers through the morning hours. The main outages affected the cities of Boulder…Golden and Lakewood. Smaller outages were reported in areas of Gold Hill…Ward… Westminster and Wheat Ridge.
In 1901…an apparent cold front produced northeast winds sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 48 mph on the 11th. General rain changed to snow overnight and totaled 2.0 inches. This was the first snowfall of the season. Total precipitation was 0.32 inch.
In 1892…apparent post-frontal rainfall totaled 3.33 inches in downtown Denver over the 3 days. A trace of snow on the 12th melted as it fell. Rainfall of 2.58 inches on the 12th into the 13th was the greatest 24-hour precipitation ever recorded during the month of October. Northwest winds were sustained to 48 mph with gusts as high as 55 mph on the 12th.
In 1873…smoke from several very large forest fires was sighted along the mountains.
In 1923…post-frontal rain changed to snow and totaled 4.0 inches. North winds were sustained to 14 mph.
In 1978…northeast winds gusting to 35 mph with a strong cold front briefly reduced visibility to 2 miles in blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport.
In 2001…overnight peak wind gusts to 82 mph and 70 mph were measured atop Niwot Ridge and Squaw Mountain…respectively.
In 1969…record breaking extremely cold temperatures for so early in the season occurred. The high temperature of 26 degrees on the 13th was two degrees lower than the previous record minimum temperature of 28 degrees for the date set in 1885. The high temperature of 24 degrees on the 12th exceeded the record low temperature (22 degrees set in 1885) for the date by only 2 degrees. In addition… 3 new record low temperatures for the dates were set. The low temperature dipped to 10 degrees on the 12th breaking the old record (22 degrees in 1885) by 12 degrees. On the 13th the mercury plunged to a low of 3 degrees breaking the old record (28 degrees in 1885) by 25 degrees. On the 14th the temperature reached a minimum of 4 degrees breaking the old record (25 degrees in 1966) by 21 degrees.