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December 30 to January 5: This Week in Denver Weather History

Sunday, December 30th, 2012 6:19am MDT
This Week In Denver Weather History

December 30 to January 5: This Week in Denver Weather History

Cold, snow and wind are the dominant historical weather events for our look back at this week in Denver weather history.

From the National Weather Service:

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.

29-30

In 1898…heavy snowfall totaled 6.2 inches in downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 35 mph with gusts to 40 mph on the 29th.

In 1912…strong winds buffeted Boulder…causing hundreds of dollars damage. The winds were described as one of the most terrific in the history of the city.

In 1923…a cold wave caused temperatures to plunge 58 degrees in 24 hours. The temperature was 54 degrees at 2:00 pm on the 29th and only 4 degrees below zero at the same time on the 30th. The low temperature of 14 degrees on the 29th was the high temperature on the 30th. The low temperature on the 30th dipped to 10 degrees below zero. Light snowfall totaled only 0.7 inch. Northeast winds were sustained to 23 mph on the 29th.

In 2008…very strong Chinook winds blasted areas in and near the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties. The wind blew down trees and power poles…downed electrical lines and fences…and damaged homes and vehicles. Scattered power outages were reported along the Front Range. In metropolitan Denver alone…24000 Xcel customers were affected by the outages. Four planed were damaged at the Vance Brand Municipal Airport in Longmont…one was heavily damaged. Insurance companies estimated up to 7 million dollars in damage. Peak wind gusts included 87 mph at the national wind technology center…86 mph…2 miles north of Longmont; 77 mph at Erie…and 75 mph at Lafayette. On the 30th…a peak wind gust to 47 mph was recorded at Denver International Airport. .

30

In 1875…snow fell from the early morning into the early evening. While the amount of snowfall was not recorded… Precipitation from melted snow totaled 0.53 inch. Good sleighing was reported…so snowfall must have been 5 inches or more.

In 1895…northwest winds were sustained to 60 mph in the city.

In 1897…west winds sustained to 52 mph with gusts to 60 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees.

In 1912…west winds were sustained to 48 mph with gusts to 52 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 50 degrees.

In 1928…snowfall was 0.1 inch in downtown Denver. This was the only measurable snow of the month…ranking the month the third least snowiest on record in the city.

In 1990…strong downslope winds buffeted the eastern foothills. Wind gusts to 91 mph were recorded atop Table Mesa in southwest Boulder…while a gust to 94 mph was clocked at Rollinsville. The high winds caused whiteout conditions due to blowing snow along some highways south and north of Boulder. The high winds downed power lines near the Rocky Flats plant south of Boulder.

In 1998…high winds continued to buffet areas in and near the foothills. Near Evergreen…a 100-foot-high blue spruce crashed down on the roof of a home…splitting the corrugated metal roof in half. Fortunately…the tree… Which measured 10 feet in circumference…only penetrated the home’s interior in a few places. Peak wind reports included: 90 mph at Wondervu…88 mph at the Rocky Flats test facility…83 mph near Conifer…and 82 mph atop Blue Mountain near Coal Creek Canyon. West winds gusted to 39 mph at Denver International Airport.

30-31

In 1886…heavy snow totaled 6.5 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow…4.5 inches…fell on the 31st. North winds were sustained to 18 mph.

In 1928…snowfall of 0.6 inch was the only measurable snow of the month in the city.

In 1947…post-frontal heavy snow totaled 6.3 inches over downtown Denver. Most of the snow fell on the 30th. North winds were sustained to 17 mph on the 30th.

In 1995…the foothills west of Denver received 5 to 9 inches of new snow…except for Bailey where 11 inches of snow were measured. No snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.

31

In 1890…northeast winds were sustained to 46 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph behind an apparent cold front. A trace of sleet fell.

In 1899…northwest winds were sustained to 44 mph with gusts as high as 48 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 49 degrees.

In 1927…the temperature was below zero all day. The high temperature of 3 degrees below zero was a record low maximum for the date. The low temperature was 11 degrees below zero.

In 1970…warm Chinook winds whistled through Boulder. A wind gust to 92 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research…while at the National Bureau of Standards…winds peaked to 70 mph. Northwest winds gusting to 30 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 60 degrees at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1993…occasional high winds occurred northwest of Denver and in the foothills. A wind gust to 85 mph was recorded at Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield. Wind gusts to 86 mph occurred on Squaw Mountain with 75 mph recorded at Rollinsville. West winds gusted to 46 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2011…an intense and fast moving storm system…produced a powerful windstorm across the Front Range. In the mountains and foothills…several locations recorded wind gusts in excess of 100 mph. Numerous trees were knocked down throughout Arapahoe national forest. One man was killed when he was impaled by a falling tree limb while driving along U.S. Highway 36…north of Boulder. The strong winds produced extensive damage to fences and roofs… And also knocked down trees which resulted in power outages that affected 19 thousand residents along the Front Range. In the mountains and foothills…peak wind gusts included: 111 mph…3 miles south-southeast of Pinecliffe; 101 mph…1 mile west of Lyons; 94 mph atop Berthoud Pass; 86 mph…3 miles south of Golden; 84 mph… 4 miles northwest of Boulder; 81 mph in Boulder; 79 mph at Kenosha Pass…NCAR Mesa Lab and the junction of U.S. Highways 72 and 93; 77 mph at the National Wind Technology Center; and 76 mph…3 miles north-northwest of Morrison. Peak wind gusts for the urban corridor included: 80 mph…3 mile east of cedar point; 77 mph in north Longmont; 67 mph…10 miles east of Parker; 64 mph at Buckley AFB and Lakewood; 60 mph at Bennett and Front Range airport in Watkins; 59 mph at Denver International Airport and Deer Trail; 58 mph at Rocky Mountain Regional Airport in Broomfield and 2 miles north-northwest of Louisville.

31-1

In 1900…low temperatures dipped to 19 degrees below zero on both days to establish daily record minimum temperatures.

In 1975…only 4.2 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport…while north of Denver a major blizzard raged. All roads north of Denver into Wyoming were closed when strong winds whipped snow into 5 to 6 foot drifts. North winds gusted to 43 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 31st…causing some blowing snow. Freezing drizzle also fell on the 31st.

In 1984…heavy snow fell in the foothills with 8 inches at Boulder and 6 inches in southern and western metro Denver. Only 1.5 inches of snow fell overnight at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1991…a New Year’s Eve snow storm dumped 2 to 8 inches of snow across northeastern Colorado. Snowfall totaled 3.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport. The 1.9 inches of snow that fell on the 31st was the only measurable snowfall of the month.

In 2008…another brief period of high winds occurred in and near the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties. In Nederland…the strong wind snapped a blue spruce which landed on a nearby propane tank. Some roofs in the immediate area were damaged and power lines were downed; which left 126 residences without electricity for six hours. Peak wind gusts included 90 mph at the national wind technology center…and 89 mph; 6 miles northwest of Boulder. At Denver International Airport…a peak wind gust of 23 mph was measured from the southwest.

31-6

In 1973…the 31st marked the start of a protracted cold spell that extended into January of 1974 when temperatures dipped below zero on 7 consecutive days. Record daily minimum readings occurred on the 3rd and 5th when the temperature plunged to 17 degrees below zero on both days. A record low daily maximum temperature of only 4 degrees occurred on the 5th.

31-7

In 1941…a protracted cold spell through January 7…1942… Produced below zero low temperatures on 7 of the 8 days. A low temperature of 2 degrees on the 3rd prevented a string of 8 days below zero. The coldest days during the period were the 1st with a high of 2 degrees and a low of 9 degrees below zero…the 4th with a high of 2 degrees and a low of 11 degrees below zero…and the 5th with a high of 26 degrees and a low of 12 degrees below zero.

1

In 1875…the temperature fell 27 degrees between 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm. The high for the day was 43 degrees…and the low was 8 degrees. Occasional snow flurries fell during the day…but not enough to cover the ground.

In 1885…dense smoke choked the skies over downtown Denver until midday.

In 1910…a rare trace of light rain fell during the morning.

In 1911…post-frontal northeast winds were sustained to 40 mph. Only a trace of snow fell in downtown Denver.

In 1952…snowfall of 0.03 inch was the only measurable snowfall of the month and resulted in 0.01 inch of melted snow…the only precipitation of the month.

In 1956…west-northwest winds gusted to 52 mph at Stapleton Airport.

In 1996…the first snow storm of the new year dumped more than a foot of snow in the Front Range foothills with 4 to 9 inches across the western and southern sections of metro Denver. Snow totals included: 14 inches at Conifer; 11 inches at Evergreen; and 10 inches at Eldora Ski Resort… West of Boulder. Snowfall totaled only 1.2 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North-northeast winds gusted to 30 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2003…only a trace of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. This…along with a trace of snow on the 22nd…was the only snow of the month…which equaled the 1934 record for the least snowiest January.

1-2

In 1896…warm Chinook winds on the 1st became cold bora winds on the 2nd. Southwest winds sustained to 60 mph with gusts as high as 66 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees on the 1st. Northwest winds sustained to 54 mph with gusts to 60 mph resulted in snowfall of 0.3 inch and a high temperature of only 31 degrees on the 2nd.

1-5

In 1940…the first days of the month were characterized by a mixture of drizzle…light snow…and fog. Fog occurred on each day. On the 4th and 5th considerable glazing resulted from freezing drizzle. All objects were coated with a glaze on the windward side. This resulted in very slippery streets…which caused several minor traffic accidents. The glaze was not heavy enough to damage wires and cables.

2

In 1972…strong northwest Chinook winds in advance of a cold front gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport and caused temperatures to warm to a high of 55 degrees.

In 1986…high winds occurred along the Front Range foothills. The strongest recorded gust was 82 mph in the Table Mesa area of Boulder. Other places in Boulder reported gusts from 68 to 80 mph. West winds gusted to 43 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1989…high winds between 60 and 70 mph were recorded in Boulder and along the eastern foothills. No damage was reported. West winds gusted to 49 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

2-3

In 1971…a major storm dumped a total of 8.4 inches of snow at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 23 mph.

In 1972…a strong cold front late on the 2nd produced north wind gusts to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport. Snow…heavy at times on the 3rd…totaled 6.4 inches as temperatures hovered only in the single digits.

In 2000…heavy snow fell over the higher terrain of the Palmer Divide to the south of metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 7 inches 5 miles southwest of Sedalia. Only 1.5 inches of snowfall were measured at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.

2-4

In 1949…the worst blizzard in many years struck metro Denver and all of northern Colorado. The storm produced blizzard conditions with wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph all day on the 3rd when temperatures were only in the single digits. This resulted in extremely cold wind chill temperatures of 40 to 55 degrees below zero. Stapleton Airport received 13.3 inches of snow from the storm… While downtown Denver received 11.8 inches. The snow fell for 51 consecutive hours downtown. Numerous lives were lost…and livestock losses were high across the northeastern plains of Colorado where extensive airlift operations were needed to bring supplies and food to isolated communities.

2-5

In 1959…very cold temperatures…to near zero and below…caused power and gas lines…water pipes…and automatic sprinkler systems to break. In Boulder… Merchandise and furnishings were water damaged when pipes burst in a department store…flooding three floors. The temperature was below zero for 38 consecutive hours at Stapleton Airport on the 2nd…3rd…and 4th and plunged to a low of 13 degrees below zero on the 4th.

3

In 1874…heavy snowfall totaled 6 inches with 5 inches falling in 3 hours. Melted snow totaled 0.40 inches of precipitation. Northeast winds were sustained to 24 mph.

In 1887…west winds were sustained to 44 mph in the city.

In 1913…northwest Chinook winds sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 52 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees. The low temperature was only 40 degrees.

In 1951…northwest winds gusted to 56 mph at Stapleton Airport.

In 1967…a strong Chinook wind reached 90 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. In downtown Boulder winds only gusted to 35 mph. Northwest winds gusting to 49 mph produced some blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1986…winds gusted to 63 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield and reached 73 mph at Echo Lake in the foothills west of Denver. West winds gusted to 46 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1994…high winds raked the eastern foothills. Wind gusts to 99 mph were recorded on Squaw Mountain…south of Idaho Springs…and gusts to 85 mph occurred at the Rocky Flats facility in northwest Jefferson County. Northwest winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport. No significant damage was reported.

In 1996…very strong Chinook winds gusting to 104 mph blasted the Front Range foothills and portions of metro Denver. Three people were injured in separate incidents. One man was injured when strong crosswinds toppled his moving van into oncoming traffic along Colorado 93 south of Boulder. Two other people received minor injuries from flying debris. At the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility…eleven hazardous waste storage facilities received at least 100 thousand dollars in damage. In addition…several power lines were downed leaving 3 thousand homes and stores without power. Hundreds of car windows were shattered…and several signs were toppled from buildings. Some of the strongest wind gusts included: 104 mph at Boulder municipal airport…98 mph in south Boulder…96 mph at Jefferson County Airport…94 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research southwest of Boulder…91 mph at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility…and 90 mph at Wondervu southwest of Boulder. West-northwest winds gusted to only 39 mph at Denver International Airport where the Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 52 degrees.

In 2004…bands of heavy snow fell across metro Denver. Snowfall totals included 6.5 inches in Broomfield and 6 inches in Westminster…Arvada…and near Hudson. Only 0.5 inch of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. More snow fell in the foothills with 9 inches recorded near Jamestown. Southeast winds gusted to 25 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2006…locally high winds developed in northern Jefferson County over and near Rocky Flats. Peak wind gusts from 75 to 91 mph were recorded during the afternoon. A semi-trailer truck was blown onto its side on State Highway 93 atop Rocky Flats. Strong winds also spread across metro Denver. West winds gusted to 44 mph at Denver International Airport.

3-4

In 1982…wind gusting to 85 mph in the Table Mesa area of Boulder caused a few power failures. West winds gusted to only 32 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2000…high winds buffeted the foothills of Boulder County. Wind gusts were reported to 91 mph at Nederland and 81 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research on the mesa southwest of Boulder. Southwest winds gusted to only 31 mph at Denver International Airport on the 4th.

4

In 1893…the low temperature dipped to only 52 degrees…the highest minimum temperature ever recorded in January. The high temperature was 64 degrees. The spring-like weather was the result of northwest Chinook winds sustained to 20 mph with gusts as high as 38 mph.

4-5

In 1996…snow began falling across the Front Range foothills and portions of metro Denver on the 4th. Most snowfall amounts ranged from 4 to 6 inches. Icy roads and blowing snow caused a 22 car accident on I-25 north of Denver… Resulting in an 8-mile traffic back-up for several hours. Snowfall totaled 3.2 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North-northeast winds gusted to 22 mph at Denver International Airport on the 4th.

5

In 1871…a heavy gale in Boulder caused 500 dollars damage.

In 1895…northwest winds were sustained to 36 mph with gusts as high as 68 mph in the city.

In 1899…strong winds occurred in Boulder…but caused only minor damage.

In 1911…northwest winds were sustained to 41 mph in downtown Denver.

In 1915…north winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 42 mph behind a cold front…which produced only 1.0 inch of snowfall.

In 1972…warm Chinook wind gusts to 85 mph were recorded in Boulder at the National Bureau of Standards and to 60 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. The high winds caused severe blowing snow in and near the foothills… Completely blocking traffic in some areas…closing schools and industrial plants. Houses under construction were damaged…and falling trees damaged cars in Boulder. An apartment building under construction was blown down in the Denver area. Northwest wind gusts reached 58 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1989…during the early morning hours with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 30’s…0.25 inch of rain fell at Stapleton International Airport

In 1994…occasional high winds blew across the eastern foothills. Wind gusts to 84 mph were recorded in southwest Boulder and 74 mph in north Boulder. There were also reports of 70 to 80 mph winds along Colorado highway 93 in Jefferson County from Golden to Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport. No significant damage was reported.

In 1999…strong downslope winds developed in the eastern foothills. A wind gust to 100 mph was recorded at Wondervu… Southwest of Boulder. West-northwest winds gusted to only 37 mph at Denver International Airport.

In 2007…a storm system brought heavy snow to areas along the Front Range. The most snow fell in and near the foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties. Storm totals included: 17 inches 8 miles northwest of Evergreen…16 inches near Conifer…15 inches southwest of Boulder and at Eldorado Springs…14.5 inches near Genesee…12 inches near Aspen and Estes Parks…11.5 inches in Boulder…11 inches at Perry Park… 9.5 inches near Blackhawk…9 inches in Louisville…7.5 inches in Arvada…7 inches near Erie…6.5 inches near Longmont…and 6 inches at Ralston Reservoir and Littleton. Snowfall totaled 5.6 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.

5-6

In 1940…snowfall totaled 5.9 inches in downtown Denver.

In 1975…high winds gusting to over 75 mph caused considerable damage in the Boulder area and minor damage in Jefferson County. In Boulder…one home was unroofed… Several power lines were blown down…and a number of homes and commercial buildings were damaged. Northwest winds gusted to 36 mph on the 5th and 38 mph on the 6th at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1980 high winds in and near the foothills shattered windows…tore roofs from buildings…and caused many power outages. Much of the damage was in Boulder…where winds gusted to at least 82 mph. Wind gusts of 80 to 100 mph were common in the foothills. West winds gusted to only 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 6th.

In 1982…2 to 6 inches of snow fell across metro Denver. Only 1.1 inches of snow were measured at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1983…high winds buffeted the foothills with gusts of 60 to 75 mph recorded in the Boulder area. West winds gusted to only 38 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 6th.

In 1998…heavy snow blanketed the Front Range foothills. Snowfall totals included: 15 inches 8 miles north of Blackhawk; 13 inches at Evergreen and 5 miles east of Nederland; 12 inches in Coal Creek Canyon; 11 inches 8 miles west of Conifer; 10 inches in Sunshine Canyon northwest of Boulder; 10 inches 11 miles southwest of Morrison; 9 inches in south turkey canyon; and 8 inches at Eldora Ski Area. Snowfall totaled only 1.8 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.

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