While it appears Denver will escape September snow, our look back at this week in weather history shows that isn’t always the case. Additionally, while not common, even early fall can bring severe weather with damaging wind, lightning and even tornadoes.
From the National Weather Service:
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.
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 1898…south winds were sustained to 41 mph with gusts to 54 mph.
In 1940…a late season thunderstorm in the city caused one lightning death.
In 1944…the month ended with a trace of rain on this date and for the month. A trace of rain also occurred on the 4th…9th…and 10th. There was no measurable precipitation for the month. The total of a trace of precipitation for the month equaled the driest September on record first set in 1892.
In 2009…a trained spotter in Coal Creek Canyon…recorded a peak wind gust to 88 mph.
In 1959…heavy snowfall totaled 5.9 inches at Stapleton Airport. Winds were light.
In 1892…the highest temperature ever recorded in October… 90 degrees…occurred. This is also the latest 90 degree reading of the season.
In 1898…southwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 49 mph in the city.
In 1927…a trace of snow was the only snow of the month… Ranking the year…amongst several other years…the second least snowiest on record.
In 1971…a wind gust to 90 mph was recorded at Buckley Field in Aurora. The severe winds caused damage in northeast metro Denver. A brick wall of a bowling alley was blown down…the roof was blown off a garage…and some business signs were damaged. A man in the bowling alley was injured by flying glass. Northwest winds gusted to 43 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1994…unusually strong thunderstorms for so late in the season pummeled metro Denver with large hail. The largest hail…2 inches in diameter…fell at Buckley Field. Hail 1 3/4 inches in diameter fell 7 miles northeast of Boulder and at Niwot. Hail 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter fell in Boulder…Arvada…Wheat Ridge…Edgewater…Capitol Hill and northwest Denver…Bennett…and Strasburg. Hail of unknown size damaged a Boeing 737 aircraft and injured both pilots at Stapleton International Airport when the windshield was broken out on takeoff. Half inch diameter hail fell at Stapleton International Airport where northwest winds gusted to 40 mph and rainfall totaled 0.82 inch.
In 2009…strong downslope winds near the foothills produced a peak wind gust to 84 mph at the national wind technology center near Rocky Flats.
In 1903…southwest winds were sustained to 42 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph. The strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 78 degrees.
In 1910…an apparent dry microburst produced sustained northeast winds to 43 mph.
In 1934…a trace of rain was the only precipitation of the month. This was the driest October on record.
In 1875…very dense haze hid the mountains from view as observed from the city.
In 1933…rainfall of just 0.01 inch was the only precipitation of the month. This was the second driest October on record.
In 1954…the low temperature cooled to only 60 degrees…the all-time record high minimum for the month October.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.