Staying true to its reputation as a relatively dry month, our look back at this week in Denver weather history doesn’t contain much in the way of snow. What it does have an abundance of however are powerful, damaging wind events.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1938…a cold air mass brought a light snowfall of 6.2 inches over 3 days to downtown Denver where northeast winds were sustained to 18 mph on the 15th.
16-17 in 1929…strong west winds gusting to 84 mph raked Boulder and Lafayette. Limited minor damage and a few injuries occurred.
In 1986…strong Chinook winds continued to howl in the foothills. A wind gust to 89 mph was recorded at Table Mesa in Boulder on the 16th. Winds of 60 to 75 mph were clocked at other locations in Boulder on both days. A west wind gust to 51 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport on the 16th.
In 1970…a wind gust to 90 mph was recorded in Boulder at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In downtown Boulder…sustained winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 53 mph were measured. Damage was minor. West winds gusted to 45 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 17th. The strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to 70 degrees on the 16th and to 72 degrees on the 17th…both records for the date. The low temperature dipped to only 32 degrees on the 16th equaling the record high minimum for the date.
In 1887…west winds were sustained to 64 mph. Strong winds occurred all day long in the city. Rainfall was 0.02 inch.
In 1894…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 46 mph.
In 1937…northwest winds sustained to 36 mph with gusts to 44 mph started a few minor fires and broke a number of plate-glass windows in downtown Denver office buildings.
In 1962…heavy snowfall totaled 7.5 inches at Stapleton Airport where the visibility was reduced to as low as 1/4 mile at times. Winds gusted from the northeast at only 15 mph.
In 2009…strong prefrontal wind gusts knocked down some trees and power lines in Boulder. More than 3400 Xcel customers in the University Hill area were without power for about one hour. Peak wind gusts included 68 mph at the NCAR Mesa Lab and 60 mph in Boulder.
In 1976…a strong cold front produced wind gusts 30 to 60 mph with much blowing snow and severe dust storms. In the Boulder area…high winds collapsed a garage and broke some windows. Northwest winds gusted to 43 mph on the 17th and to 44 mph on the 18th at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1984…the third blizzard in a week struck eastern Colorado. Heavy snow hit some parts of metro Denver with 8 to 10 inches measured in Aurora…but only 2.9 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where northwest winds gusted to 31 mph.
In 1999…damaging downslope bora winds developed in the foothills behind a strong cold front. Peak wind reports included: 90 mph at the Gamow Tower on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder; 79 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research mesa lab near Boulder and at the national wind technology center south of Boulder; and 72 mph atop Blue Mountain and at Jefferson County Airport. Downed power lines caused major outages for at least 10 thousand residents in Evergreen…Idaho Springs…Golden… And Lakewood. In Golden…the wind toppled a lightning static protection line atop a 70-foot…230 thousand-volt distribution tower. The downed line…sparked a small grass fire just east of the Lookout Mountain youth services center. The fire burned a path approximately 100 yards wide and 1/3 mile long before it was contained.
In 2000…snow…heavy in the mountains and foothills…spread over metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 24 inches at the Eldora Ski Resort with 8 inches measured near Blackhawk. Snowfall was only 1.8 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport…which was the only measurable snow of the month.
In 2006…a cold spell resulted in 4 temperature records. Low temperatures of 10 degrees below zero on the 17th… 13 degrees below zero on the 18th…and 4 degrees below zero on the 19th were record minimums for those dates. The high temperature of only 7 degrees on the 18th was a record low maximum for the date. Light snow fell on the 17th…but totaled less than half an inch at Denver International Airport.
In 1918…post-frontal northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with a measured extreme velocity to 44 mph.
In 1937…a moderate duststorm occurred during the late afternoon and early evening. Northeast winds sustained to 32 mph with gusts to 41 mph reduced the visibility to 1/2 mile which persisted for about 40 minutes in the city.
In 1998…rare thunder from instability rain and snow showers was heard in Littleton during the late afternoon. Thunder in February only occurs about once every 10 years over metro Denver.
In 1954…a vigorous cold front produced north winds gusting to 56 mph and a trace of snowfall at Stapleton Airport on the 18th. Strong and gusty winds to 55 mph persisted through the next day and caused some blowing dust.
In 1955…a storm dumped heavy snow across metro Denver. At Stapleton Airport where north winds sustained to 28 mph produced some blowing snow…snowfall totaled 8.8 inches.
In 1913…post-frontal snowfall totaled 6.9 inches in downtown Denver over the 3 days. Most of the snow fell on the 19th. Northeast winds were sustained to 21 mph with a measured extreme velocity to 24 mph on the 18th.
In 1924…light snowfall totaled 4.6 inches over the 3 days. This was the only measurable snowfall of the month. High temperatures plunged from 45 degrees on the 18th to 17 degrees on the 20th. Low temperatures dipped from 31 degrees on the 18th to only 8 degrees on the 20th. Northeast winds were sustained to 24 mph on the 19th.
In 1953…a major blizzard dumped 10.6 inches of snowfall at Stapleton Airport. Strong north winds at sustained speeds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts as high as 44 mph frequently reduced visibilities to 1/4 mile in blowing snow during the day of the 19th. The strong winds caused much drifting snow…making accurate snowfall measurements almost impossible. Precipitation from the storm totaled 1.13 inches. The 1.01 inches of precipitation on the 19th was the greatest calendar day and 24 hour precipitation ever recorded in the city during the month of February.
In 1987…large amounts of new snow fell in the Front Range foothills. The foothills received 10 to 20 inches of new snow with 4 to 8 inches on the adjacent plains. On the 19th…flight delays occurred at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled 4.2 inches and east winds gusted to only 18 mph on the 19th. Schools were closed in the foothills above Boulder.
In 1899…northwest winds sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 45 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 56 degrees… The highest reading of the month that year.
In 1980…high winds were reported in Boulder. Sustained speeds of 50 to 60 mph with gusts to 85 mph were measured. West winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1986…Chinook winds continued to buffet the eastern foothills. Winds gusting from 60 to 75 mph were common in the foothills. West winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…high winds gusting from 70 to 75 mph were reported atop Table Mesa near Boulder. West winds gusted to 44 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2007…this was the last day of 61 consecutive days with snow cover of 1 inch or more in Denver. This second longest period of snow cover on record began with the blizzard on December 20-21…2006…when 20.7 inches of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport where official snow measurements were taken. Additional snowfall during December…January…and February prolonged the event. Snow depth on the ground was measured to the nearest inch once daily at 6:00 am MST.
In 1937…post-frontal heavy snowfall totaled 8.4 inches over downtown Denver. Most of the snow…6.6 inches…fell on the 20th when north winds were sustained to 16 mph with gusts to 18 mph. The temperature dipped to a low of 9 degrees on the 20th.
In 1939…post-frontal snowfall totaled 5.4 inches in the city. The snow covered streets and highways with a coating of ice as the temperature fell from 36 degrees at 2:00 pm on the 19th to a low of 4 degrees at 3:00 am on the 20th. Many motorists were marooned for several hours. Northeast winds were sustained to 24 mph on the 19th.
In 1971…heavy snowfall totaled 9.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to only 16 mph. Most of the snow occurred on the 19th and 20th. The 24 hour snowfall of 8.2 inches was the greatest in February since 1953.
In 1937…6.6 inches of heavy snow fell in downtown Denver.
In 1976…a cold front produced north wind gusts to 49 mph at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled 4.7 inches. North winds at sustained speeds of 20 to 30 mph with higher gusts persisted throughout the day…producing much blowing snow. East of the city…winds gusting 40 to 80 mph caused blizzard conditions and produced drifts 2 to 4 feet high.
In 1981…a vigorous cold front at midday produced strong northeast winds at 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph and billows of blowing dust reducing the visibility to 3 miles during the afternoon. Even stronger winds from the north at 25 mph with gusts to 45 mph in snow and blowing snow reduced the visibility to 1/4 mile during the evening. Snowfall totaled only 2.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1997…heavy snow fell in the foothills. Snowfall totals included: 16 inches at Eldora Ski Area; 15 inches at South Turkey Creek; 14 inches at Conifer and Morrison; and 11 inches at Blackhawk…Evergreen…and Intercanyon. Only 1.0 inch of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Northeast winds gusted to 32 mph at Denver International Airport on the 20th.
In 1901…northwest winds sustained to 43 mph with gusts to 46 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees.
In 1935…strong west to northwest winds sustained to 30 mph with gusts to 34 mph produced considerable blowing dust. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 60 degrees.
In 1967…west winds gusting to 53 mph produced some blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport. Winds were strong and gusty all day.
In 1988…high winds were reported along the foothills with 90 mph in east Boulder where the winds knocked out a few street and traffic lights. The strong winds whipped a grass and timber fire in Boulder canyon. The fire threatened some homes for a time…but was extinguished before causing any significant property damage. West winds gusting to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport warmed the temperature to a high of 63 degrees.
In 1909…a major storm dumped 12.9 inches of heavy snowfall over the city. North winds were sustained to 37 mph on the 22nd. Temperatures during the storm hovered in the 20’s.
In 1893…northwest winds were sustained to 36 mph with gusts to 50 mph.
In 1900…northwest winds sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 45 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 61 degrees.
In 1910…a cold front caused a remarkably sharp drop in temperature from 43 degrees at 3:00 am to only 3 degrees at 8:30 am. These were the high and low temperatures for the day. Early west winds switched to northeast behind the front.
In 1927…west winds were sustained to 42 mph with a measured maximum velocity to 60 mph.
In 1954…strong and gusty west winds persisted throughout the day. The highest wind gust recorded at Stapleton Airport was 58 mph.
In 1960…snowfall totaled 5.9 inches…producing near-blizzard conditions in snow and blowing snow at Stapleton Airport where northeast wind gusts to 40 mph reduced visibility to 1/2 mile.
In 1986…high winds occurred in the foothills. Wind gusts of 65 to 70 mph were reported at Golden Gate Canyon…and a peak gust of 83 mph was recorded at Echo Lake. Northwest winds gusted to only 29 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1988…a wind gust to 83 mph was recorded in Boulder with 80 mph clocked at Rollinsville. Northwest winds gusted to 45 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…wind gusts to 63 mph were reported in western Elbert County. Southwest winds gusted to 45 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1999…strong post-frontal…bora winds developed over the foothills and spread over the northeast plains. Peak wind gusts included: 87 mph at Golden Gate Canyon; 84 mph at Wondervu; 80 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research mesa lab; 75 mph at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility; 74 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield; 72 mph at the Gamow Tower on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder; and 60 mph at Bennett. West to northwest winds gusted to 44 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2000…thunder was heard across much of metro Denver. Thunderstorms over southwest metro Denver produced 1/4 to 1/2 inch diameter hail at Pinehurst Country Club. A thunderstorm at Denver International Airport produced wind gusts to 34 mph. This was only the 6th time since 1891 that thunder had been reported in February.
In 1985…a snowstorm struck the eastern foothills with 8 to 15 inches of new snow. Three to 7 inches of new snow fell across metro Denver and parts of I-70 were closed at times. Snowfall totaled only 3.3 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast wind gusts to 29 mph were recorded.
In 1992…a snow storm dumped heavy snow in the Front Range foothills. Conifer received 12 inches of new snow with 7.5 inches at Aspen Springs. Snow only dusted the plains and metro Denver…but winds were strong with a gust to 43 mph from the north at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled only 0.3 inch. This was the only measurable snowfall of the month…equaling the record for the least snowiest February first set in 1970. Rare thunder for February accompanied the snow during the early morning hours of the 23rd.
In 1999…strong Chinook winds developed on a very localized scale overnight in and near the foothills of northern Jefferson and southern Boulder counties. Peak wind reports included: 82 mph at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility…80 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research mesa lab in Boulder…77 mph near Nederland…and 75 mph atop the Gamow Tower on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.
In 2012…a strong upper level jet stream produced high winds along the Front Range. In Boulder…the strong winds snapped power poles and toppled trees. As a result…about 7 thousand Xcel Energy customers were without power for several hours. The high winds overturned a tractor-trailer on foothills highway overpass…north of Valmont road. The driver suffered minor injuries. A parked car was totaled when it was crushed by a fallen tree near the University of Boulder. The strong winds were also responsible for two Boulder County wildfires which consumed a total of 65 acres. Colorado department of transportation officials closed U.S. 36 at McCaslin Boulevard in both directions after the wind caused damage to the pedestrian overpass. Metal siding from the overpass fell into highway; fortunately there were no injuries. In total…electrical outages affected 46 thousand customers along the Front Range. Damage to roofs…siding… Garage doors and fences was also reported. Peak wind gusts included: 93 mph near Lyons; 88 mph at NCAR Mesa Lab; 85 mph…2 miles southwest of Rocky Flats; 82 mph…5 miles northwest of Boulder; 81 mph…2 miles north of Longmont…4 miles east-northeast of Nederland…the National Wind Technology Center and near Wondervu; 80 mph at the junction of highways 72 and 93; 79 mph at the Boulder Municipal Airport; 78 mph…6 miles northwest of Boulder; 77 mph at Rocky Mountain Municipal Airport; 76 mph atop Berthoud Pass; 75 mph near Aspen Springs; 70 mph at Longmont municipal airport; 64 mph at Erie Municipal Airport. At Denver International Airport…peak wind gusts of 53 mph on the 22nd and 55 mph on the 23rd were observed.
In 1960…heavy snowfall of 6.1 inches at Stapleton Airport on the 22nd and 23rd marked the beginning of a protracted cold spell which lasted until the end of the month. The cloudy… Cold weather was accompanied by occasional light snow or flurries and fog. New record low temperatures for the dates were set on the 24th thru the 29th with the lowest temperature of 11 degrees below zero on the 28th. The seven consecutive days of low temperatures of zero or below had been exceeded in duration only 4 times previously. New low maximum temperatures for the dates were set on the 23rd… 24th…and the 26th thru the 29th with the lowest maximum temperature of 8 degrees recorded on the 26th.
In 1904…west winds sustained to 42 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 63 degrees.
In 1907…a thunderstorm…relatively rare in February…was observed over the city. The chance of occurrence is around once every ten years.
In 1977…while 60 to 100 mph winds produced a huge dust storm over much of eastern Colorado…only an experimental windmill at the Rocky Flats nuclear plant was destroyed in the Denver area. Winds at Rocky Flats were clocked to 90 mph. Northwest winds gusted to 46 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1986…wind gusts to 79 mph were clocked at Echo Lake in the foothills west of Denver.
In 1992…a rare February thunderstorm occurred. This was only the 5th time since 1891 that thunder has been heard in February.
In 1994…periodic high winds occurred over the higher elevations of the Front Range eastern foothills. The strongest wind gusts reached 87 mph atop Squaw Mountain near Idaho Springs. Southwest winds gusted to only 25 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…high winds gusting as high as 76 mph were reported along the Front Range foothills and adjacent urban corridor. Wind gusts to 70 mph were reported atop Table Mesa near Boulder and to 63 mph in Broomfield. West winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2012…bands of moderate to heavy snow…associated with a strong upper level jet…formed over the southern Front Range foothills…Palmer Divide and southern Denver suburbs. Storm totals included: 10 inches…2 miles west-northwest of Highlands Ranch and Kiowa; 9.5 inches near Castle Rock and Littleton; 8 inches at Aspen Springs and Marston Reservoir; 7.5 inches at Evergreen and Louviers; 7 inches…5 miles south-southwest of Arapahoe Park; with 4 to 6 inches elsewhere. Officially…Denver International Airport observed 1.9 inches of snowfall.
In 1935…northwest winds sustained to 37 mph with gusts as high as 47 mph produced considerable blowing dust behind a cold front on the 23rd. The dust was dampened by 7.0 inches of snowfall over downtown Denver from the late evening of the 23rd through the evening of the 24th.
In 1997…heavy snow fell in the foothills. Snowfall totals included 8 inches at Sunshine Canyon northwest of Boulder… And 6 inches at Morrison. Snowfall totaled only 2.4 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. East winds gusted to only 22 mph at Denver International Airport on the 23rd.
In 1912…a severe winter storm dumped 14.2 inches of snowfall over downtown Denver. Snow fell continuously from 9:40 am on the 23rd until 9:15 pm on the 25th with most of the snow… 9.2 inches…on the 24th. Temperatures were mostly in the 20’s. Northeast winds were sustained to 20 mph on the 24th.