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January 2 to January 8 – This week in Denver weather history

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011 5:28am MDT
January 2 to January 8 - This week in Denver weather history

January 2 to January 8 - This week in Denver weather history

Certainly cold and snow are to be expected in Denver in January and our look back at this week in Denver weather history has plenty notable events with those conditions.  However, as we pointed out in our January weather preview, oftentimes it is the wind that is the real story.  Powerful Chinook winds appear during the month and we see the damaging – and sometimes deadly – results when we look back in time. 

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.

1-2

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

In 1903…northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with an extreme velocity of 48 mph.  The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 66 degrees…which was a record maximum for the date.  The low temperature dipped to only 35 degrees.
 
In 1962…strong winds caused nearly 14 hundred dollars in damage 2 miles north of Boulder.  West-northwest Chinook winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton Airport in advance of a cold front that produced northeast wind gusts to 43 mph along with some blowing dust and 0.1 inch of snow.
 
In 1972…a wind gust to 69 mph was recorded at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder.  Only minor damage occurred.  Northwest winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
 
In 2007…a large avalanche swept two vehicles off U.S. Highway 40…near Berthoud Pass…and partially buried them. The slide covered all three lanes of the highway.  Eight people were in the vehicles…but only one person was seriously injured.  He suffered several broken ribs.  The slide was approximately 200 feet wide and 15 feet deep.

6-7

In 1908…furious high winds were noted in Boulder but caused only minor damage and injury.
 
In 1913…a very cold arctic air mass caused temperatures to plunge to record levels.  The low temperature fell to 21 degrees below zero on the 6th and to 18 degrees below zero on the 7th…both records.  The high temperature of only 8 degrees below zero on the 6th was a record low maximum for the date.
 
In 1920…post-frontal heavy snowfall totaled 7.0 inches in downtown Denver.  North winds were sustained at 24 mph with gusts to 30 mph on the 6th.
 
In 1923…warm Chinook winds resulted in two temperature records.  Low temperatures of 37 degrees on the 6th and 42 degrees on the 7th equaled the record high minimums for the dates.  West winds were sustained to 30 mph with gusts to 33 mph on the 6th.  Southwest winds were sustained to 47 mph with gusts to 52 mph on the 7th.  High temperatures were 53 degrees on the 6th and 56 degrees on the 7th.
 
In 1986…2 to 4 inches of snow fell over metro Denver… With 5 to 8 inches in the foothills west of the city. The 2.4 inches of snowfall recorded at Stapleton International Airport was the only snowfall of the month.  Northwest winds gusted to 24 mph at the airport.
 
In 2006…a brief warm spell resulted in two temperature records.  High temperatures of 66 degrees on the 6th and 69 degrees on the 7th equaled the record daily maximum temperatures for each of those days.  Low temperatures remained above freezing and were within 1 or 2 degrees of the record daily high minimums.

In 1911…west Chinook winds were sustained to 51 mph and warmed the temperature to a high of 56 degrees.
 
In 1994…occasional high winds buffeted the eastern foothills.  Wind gusts to 99 mph were recorded at Rollinsville…southwest of Boulder.  West winds gusted to 40 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
 
In 1995…a brief blast of high winds hit the eastern foothills and adjacent Front Range communities.  A wind gust to 112 mph was recorded atop Squaw Mountain…west of Denver.  In Boulder…winds gusted to 81 mph.  West winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
 
In 2009…damaging downslope winds were responsible for triggering two wildfires that threatened the city of Boulder.  Peak wind gusts ranged from 75 to 107 mph in and near the foothills of Boulder…Jefferson and park counties. Although the fires never merged…they were close enough for firefighters to build a perimeter around both of them.  The fires quickly torched 3000 acres and forced the evacuation of up to 1400 families.  One home was destroyed along with several barns and outbuildings. Three firemen suffered minor injuries.  In Bailey…power lines were downed by falling trees.  A tin roof on an auto repair shop in town was almost completely blown off. Peak wind gusts included:  107 mph…3 miles south of Mt. Audubon…92 mph…3 miles south of Evergreen; 87 mph…6 miles northwest of Boulder; 81 mph…2 miles east-northeast of Bergen Park and at the National Wind Technology Center; 79 mph…4 miles northeast of Nederland; 77 mph…3 miles west of Sheridan; 75 mph at Genesee.  A peak wind gust of 39 mph was measured at Denver International Airport from the west.

7-8

In 1911…gale force winds occurred in Boulder causing minor injuries.
 
In 1937…cold arctic air plunged temperatures below zero for an estimated 56 consecutive hours.  Two temperature records were set.  High temperatures of 8 degrees below zero on the 7th and 3 degrees on the 8th were record low maximum readings for those dates.  Low temperatures plunged to 12 degrees below zero on the 7th and 11 degrees below zero on the 8th.  Snowfall was 1.4 inches in downtown Denver.
 
In 1969…a violent evening windstorm struck Boulder and the adjacent foothills.  A wind gust to 130 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.  Winds reached 96 mph in downtown Boulder.  The Boulder airport wind recorder was blown away after measuring a wind gust to 80 mph.  The windstorm caused over one million dollars in damage and one fatality in Boulder.  About 25 homes in south Boulder had roofs blown off or were severely damaged.  Roofs were blown off buildings housing scientific laboratories and offices of the Environmental Science Services Administration…now NOAA…in Boulder…and installations of several scientific measuring sites near Boulder received heavy damage.  Grass fires driven by the high winds endangered many areas…but were controlled by volunteer firemen.  One man died from injuries received when he was blown from a fire truck.  One man was killed and another injured when the truck camper in which they were riding was blown off I-25 about 10 miles north of Denver.  In the same area a mobile home and a truck trailer were blown off the highway and demolished.  At least 20 people in the Boulder area received light to serious injuries from flying debris or from being blown into obstructions.  Power lines and trees were downed over a wide area.  Damage was relatively light in the city of Denver…where northwest winds gusted to 62 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 8th.  Many windows were broken in Arvada…Englewood…and Littleton. A 27-year-old fire lookout tower on Squaw Mountain…west of Denver…was blown away…and several radio relay towers at that location were toppled.  Trucks were overturned near Georgetown.  Mobile homes were overturned in several areas with occupants receiving injuries in some cases. The strong Chinook winds also brought warm weather.  The maximum temperature of 69 degrees on the 7th broke the old record of 65 degrees set in 1948.  The temperature also reached 65 degrees on the 8th…but was not a record.
 
In 1992…an intense blizzard buried eastern parts of metro Denver.  At times snow fell at rates of 2 to 3 inches an hour.  Winds increased from the north at speeds of 25 to 45 mph.  Drifts of 4 to 8 feet were common.  I-70 was closed east of Denver…and I-25 was closed from Denver south.  Snowfall totals ranged from a couple of inches in the foothills west of Denver to as much as 2 feet on the east side of metro Denver.  The heaviest snow fell on the 7th in a band from the northern suburbs of Westminster and Thornton through Aurora and east Denver to southeast of Parker.  Snowfall totals included:  22 inches in southeast Aurora…14.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport…13 inches in Northglenn…10 inches in Parker…and 9 inches in Westminster.  The 14.5 inches of snowfall measured on the 7th into the 8th is the greatest 24 hour snowfall ever recorded in the city during the month of January.  North winds gusting to 46 mph caused much blowing snow at Stapleton International Airport.
 
In 2000…high winds developed in and near the Front Range foothills.  The strongest winds were generally confined to foothills areas north of I-70.  A wind gust to 76 mph was reported in Golden Gate Canyon.  West winds gusted to 37 mph at Denver International Airport on the 8th.

7-10 

In 1962…a major winter storm dumped 13.5 inches of snow on metro Denver.  A foot of the snow fell on the 8th when northeast winds gusted to 30 mph.  The storm was followed by an intense blast of very cold arctic air.  Minimum temperature readings of 24 degrees below zero occurred on both the 9th and 10th.  The temperature never reached above zero on the 9th when a maximum reading of 1 degree below zero was recorded.  Temperatures were below zero for 37 consecutive hours.

In 1912…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 45 mph in downtown Denver.
 
In 1971…wind gusts to 52 mph were recorded in downtown Boulder.  Northwest winds gusted to 28 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
 
In 1990…high winds gusting from 50 to 90 mph along the Front Range produced much damage from blowing dust and gravel throughout the day.  Wind gusts to 92 mph were recorded in the Table Mesa area of southwest Boulder. The winds caused sporadic power outages.  Clouds of dust and gravel whipped by 70 to 90 mph gusts blinded commuters on the Denver-Boulder turnpike near Broomfield during the morning rush hour.  Flying gravel shattered windows on 50 vehicles parked near a Boulder high school. High winds were also blamed for partially dismantling a house under construction in Boulder…as well as toppling a number of fences…billboards…signs…and power poles. The strong cross-winds jack-knifed and overturned semi-tractor trailers on I-70 near Golden and just south of Boulder on State Highway 93.  Several County airports were closed due to strong winds and blowing dust reducing visibilities.  Wind delays up to 30 minutes occurred at Stapleton International Airport where west winds gusted to 48 mph.  Eighty mph winds in Georgetown…empire…and Idaho Springs were blamed for power and telephone outages. Windows were blown out of a sheriff’s car along I-70 east of Georgetown.  The strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 60 degrees in Denver.
 
In 2007…strong winds associated with an intense upper level jet…and a very strong surface pressure gradient…developed in and near the Front Range foothills.  Peak wind gusts ranged from 77 mph to 115 mph.  The strong winds coupled with freshly fallen snow resulted in whiteout conditions and several highway closures due to blowing and drifting snow.  Road closures included:  State Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder; State Highway 128 from Wadsworth Boulevard to State Highway 93; U.S. Highway 36…the Denver Boulder Turnpike from Broomfield to South Boulder Road; and State Highway 74 near Evergreen…between County Road 65 and Lewis Ridge Road.  More than 100 people were stranded in their cars between Golden and Boulder as blowing and drifting snow made the highway impassable.  Snow drifts along State Highway 93 were over 6 feet in depth.  As a result… The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Arvada west high school for the stranded commuters.  Up to twenty cars were also abandoned along the diagonal highway…between Boulder and Longmont.  Thirty vehicles were stranded along State Highway 128.  The high winds also caused intermittent power outages in Boulder.  West winds gusted to 40 mph at Denver International Airport

8-9

In 1891…heavy dry snowfall totaled 9.7 inches over downtown Denver.  Most of the snow…6.5 inches…occurred on the 8th when north winds were sustained to 12 mph with gusts to 20 mph.
 
In 1939…heavy snowfall totaled 6.7 inches in downtown Denver. The snowfall was the heaviest overnight…particularly during the early morning hours.  The moist snow adhered to the north side of the instrument shelter and other objects to a depth of 2 inches.  Snow accumulated on fences and trees to several inches.  This was the greatest snowfall of the month that year.  The greatest depth on the ground was 6.5 inches.  North to northwest winds were sustained to 24 mph on the 8th and to 27 mph on the 9th.

8-10 

In 1983…winds of 70 to 90 mph howled through Boulder. A wind gust to 100 mph was recorded on Fritz Peak near Rollinsville.  A tree blown down by the wind damaged a house in eastern Boulder County.  The strong winds developed behind a cold front late on the 8th and continued through the 10th.  At Stapleton International Airport…west to northwest winds gusted to 49 mph on the 8th…to 45 mph on the 9th…and to 48 mph on the 10th.

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