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March 11 to March 17: This week in Denver weather history

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018 3:04am MST
This week in Denver weather history

March 11 to March 17: This week in Denver weather history

Snow is one thing we have not seen a lot of in recent weeks but we still have time to gain ground. March is our snowiest month and our look back at this week in Denver weather history provides evidence of this. It was this week in 2003 that the Denver was struck by a massive snowstorm – the costliest in Denver history.

From the National Weather Service:

9-11

In 1927…rain changed to heavy snow behind a cold front and totaled 7.7 inches over downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 37 mph with an extreme velocity to 38 mph on the 11th.

In 1955…a strong windstorm raked the eastern foothills. A wind gust to 95 mph was recorded at Rocky Flats with a gust to 60 mph measured at Valmont. Damage in Boulder totaled 10 thousand dollars. Minor injuries also occurred. The strong winds were associated with a vigorous cold front that produced northwest winds at 40 mph with gusts as high as 52 mph at Stapleton Airport where the visibility was briefly reduced to 3/4 mile in blowing dust on the 10th.

In 1968…5.5 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 24 mph on the 10th.

9-19

In 1906…an extended cold and blustery period occurred with light snow totaling 14.4 inches over 11 consecutive days. The greatest amount of snow on a single day was 4.0 inches on the 15th. Only a trace of snow fell on the 12th and 17th. High temperatures were below freezing for the entire period. The coldest were 14 degrees on the 16th and 18 degrees on the 17th. Both readings were record low maximums for the dates. Low temperatures were mostly in the single digits. The coldest were 2 degrees below zero on the 16th and 5 degrees below zero on the 19th. Northeast winds were sustained to 22 mph on the 9th. North winds were sustained to 36 mph on the 10th…32 mph on the 13th…and 22 mph on the 15th.

10-11

In 1886…snowfall of 3.5 inches was measured in downtown Denver. Apparent post-frontal north winds were sustained to 43 mph on the 11th.

In 1977…a major blizzard struck metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 8.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds at speeds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph frequently reduced visibilities in blowing snow to 1/4 mile or less. Most of the snow…7.7 inches…fell on the 10th. The snow ended by daybreak on the 11th…but strong north winds persisted through the day.

In 1988…a late winter storm produced heavy snow and wind… Mainly north of Denver. Wind gusts reached 62 mph at Keenesburg and produced a lot of blowing snow…closing schools in southwest weld County. The storm closed I-70 east of Denver. Only 1.1 inch of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport…but north winds gusted to 39 mph.

10-12

In 1924…snowfall was heavy and totaled 9.9 inches over downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 18 mph on the 11th.

In 2001…heavy snow fell over northeast Colorado and metro Denver when a combination of upslope winds and convective snow bands formed over the area. Storm totals included: 11 inches at the Eldora Ski Resort; 10 inches at Genesee; 8 inches at Elizabeth…atop Lookout Mountain…near Sedalia… And at Strasburg; 7 inches near Castle Rock and Evergreen; and 6 inches in Aurora…atop Crow Hill…and in Parker. Elsewhere across metro Denver…snowfall ranged from 2 to 5 inches with 3.9 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North winds gusted to 28 mph at Denver International Airport on the 10th.

11

In 1896…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 56 mph.

In 1991…the passage of a strong pacific cold front produced winds in excess of 60 mph across metro Denver. Blowing dust reduced the visibility to 2 miles at Stapleton International Airport where northwest winds gusted to 49 mph. A blizzard across eastern Colorado closed I-70 from Watkins to the east…but Denver escaped the storm with only a trace of snowfall.

11-12

In 1929…heavy snowfall totaled 9.3 inches in downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 31 mph with gusts to 34 mph on the 11th.

In 1947…heavy snowfall totaled 7.0 inches in downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 15 mph on the 11th.

In 1963…snowfall totaled 5.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north-northwest winds gusted to 25 mph on the 11th.

In 1993…a strong storm dumped heavy snow in the mountains and 4 to 8 inches of snow over metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 3.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 35 mph.

12

In 1893…northwest winds were sustained to 44 mph.

In 1952…northwest winds sustained at 40 mph with gusts to 60 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport where 3.2 inches of snow also fell.

In 1954…strong winds raked metro Denver all day producing areas of blowing dust…snow…and blowing snow. At Stapleton Airport…north-northeast winds at sustained speeds of 40 to 45 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph were recorded. Snowfall totaled only 0.4 inches.

In 1982…a windstorm hit the foothills from Boulder north. The highest recorded wind gust of 90 mph occurred in Boulder. Wind gusts to 47 mph were recorded at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1985…only 1.0 inch of snow fell in Denver…but strong winds produced near-blizzard conditions and caused the closure of I-70 from Aurora to Limon for an hour in the evening. North winds gusted to 38 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1999…heavy snow fell in and near the Front Range foothills. Snowfall totals included: 8.5 inches at Genesee…6 inches about 8 miles northwest of Evergreen… 4.5 inches in Boulder…4 inches in Littleton…and only 2.2 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.

12-13

In 2005…a winter storm brought heavy snow to the eastern foothills and western metro Denver overnight. Storm total snowfall included: 15 inches in Jamestown…13 inches near Blackhawk…11 inches in the foothills southwest of Boulder and near Nederland…10.5 inches at Gross Reservoir…9.5 inches at Eldorado Springs…9 inches at Roxborough Park… 8.5 inches near Longmont…8 inches in Boulder…7.5 inches at Centennial…7 inches in Louisville…3.3 inches at Denver Stapleton. At Denver International Airport…west winds gusted to 46 mph on the 12th before the passage of the cold front and north winds gusted 31 mph on the 13th.

12-16

In 1880…a protracted cold spell resulted in 8 temperature records being set. Record low temperatures for the date were set when the temperature dipped to 10 degrees below zero on the 13th and 14th…8 degrees below zero on the 12th and 15th…and 4 degrees below zero on the 16th. Daily record low maximum temperatures were set with 11 degrees on the 12th…12 degrees on the 13th…and 19 degrees on the 15th.

13

In 1973…northwest winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The strong winds were accompanied by virga and a very light snow shower.

In 1990…4 to 9 inches of snow fell across metro Denver with 8 to 16 inches in the foothills. Morrison reported 9 inches; Evergreen…11 inches; and Aspen Springs…14 inches from the storm. Blowing snow and reduced visibilities caused 2-hour delays at Stapleton International Airport where only 5.1 inches of snow fell and north winds gusted to 21 mph.

13-14

In 1996…a storm system moving across northern Colorado dumped heavy snow in the mountains and foothills and across metro Denver where snowfall ranged from 5 to 10 inches. A foot of new snow was measured at Nederland with 11 inches at Conifer. Snowfall totaled 8.0 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Northeast winds gusted to 30 mph at Denver International Airport on the 13th.

13-15

In 1906…snowfall totaled 8.0 inches over downtown Denver.

14

In 1873…a brisk west wind blew a perfect gale during the afternoon and evening.

In 1898…northwest winds were sustained to 52 mph with gusts to 62 mph.

In 1899…west Bora winds were sustained to 50 mph with gusts to 60 mph.

In 1902…west winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph.

In 1913…strong winds all day behind a cold front made for a blustery cold day as the high temperature climbed to only 25 degrees after a low of 19 degrees. Northeast winds were sustained to 51 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph. Only a trace of snow fell.

In 1920…west winds sustained to 43 mph with gusts to 50 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 67 degrees.

In 1923…heavy snowfall of 8.5 inches fell in downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 25 mph.

In 1947…heavy snowfall totaled 5.8 inches in downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 17 mph.

In 1971…a wind gust to 51 mph was recorded at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder.

In 1989…a strong pacific cold front produced west wind gusts to 59 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2002…heavy snow developed in the foothills of Boulder County with 9 inches measured near Jamestown and 7 inches near Nederland. Snowfall totaled only 2.9 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. East winds gusted to 29 mph at Denver International Airport.

14-16

In 1908…a warm spell resulted in daily record high minimum temperatures on 3 consecutive days: 54 degrees on the 14th…52 degrees on the 15th…and 56 degrees on the 16th… Also the all-time record high minimum for the month of March. High temperatures ranged from 65 degrees on the 14th to 72 degrees on the 16th.

In 1983…a heavy wet snowstorm buried metro Denver with the foothills receiving the most. Conifer recorded 34 inches of snow with 4 feet measured at Coal Creek Canyon in the foothills northwest of Denver. The storm left 6 to 10 inches of snow across metro Denver. Boulder received 12 to 18 inches. Flight operations at Stapleton International Airport were limited to one runway for a time. Some roads and schools were closed…and power outages occurred when wet snow downed lines. Snowfall on the 15th and 16th totaled 7.2 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 30 mph. Maximum snow depth on the ground was only 6 inches due to melting.

15

In 1902…northwest winds were sustained to 54 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph.

In 1920…southwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph. The strong but cold downslope winds warmed the high temperature to only 35 degrees.

In 1935…strong winds howled across Boulder. At Valmont a wind gust to 60 mph was recorded. No damage was reported.

In 2006…strong winds ranging from 60 to 75 mph were reported in and near the foothills of Boulder County.

In Longmont… Two trees toppled by the strong winds damaged a car. Winds gusted to 75 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesa Laboratory in Boulder. West winds gusted to 52 mph at Denver International Airport.

15-16

In 2000…heavy upslope snowfall occurred in and near the Front Range foothills and over the palmer divide to the south of metro Denver. Snowfall totals from the storm included: 17 inches at Idaho Springs; 16 inches at Aspen Springs; 12 inches in Boulder; 11 inches at Bailey… Chief Hosa…Coal Creek Canyon…Eldorado Springs…Evergreen… And near Morrison; 10 inches at Intercanyon…Ken Caryl Ranch…and near Nederland; 9 inches near Sedalia and in Wheat Ridge; and 8 inches in Arvada. Snowfall totaled 5.4 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Northeast winds gusted to 28 mph at Denver International Airport on the 15th.

16

In 1902…north winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph.

In 1908…the low temperature dipped to only 56 degrees…the record high minimum for the month.

In 1963…high winds struck metro Denver causing heavy damage. Winds gusted at 90 to 100 mph in Boulder. Wind gusts to 98 mph were recorded at Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield where hangars and several light planes were severely damaged. Wind gusts to 87 mph were recorded southwest of Littleton. A west wind gust to 55 mph was recorded at Stapleton Airport. Trees were uprooted…signs blown down…and utility lines disrupted. Damage totaled nearly 5 thousand dollars in Boulder alone.

In 1987…a storm dropped 3 to 6 inches of snow across metro Denver with higher amounts in the foothills. Most of the snow on the plains melted as it fell. Only 1.9 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where southeast winds gusted to 30 mph.

In 2015…the temperature at Denver International Airport reached 81 degrees. It broke the previous record of 75 degrees and also made it the earliest the 80 degree day on record. The previous 80 degree day record was the 18th.

17

In 1966…high winds caused extensive minor damage across metro Denver. A light plane was overturned at Stapleton International Airport where northwest wind gusts to 55 mph were recorded. Winds gusted to 56 mph at Table Mesa in Boulder

In 1989…strong winds raked metro Denver. West wind gusts to 49 mph were clocked at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2003…the first tornado of the season was sighted near Strasburg. The small landspout touched down briefly…but caused no damage.

17-18

In 1923…4.2 inches of snow fell over downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 49 on the 17th. Low temperature of zero degrees on the 18th was the lowest of the month that year.

In 1944…heavy snow fell across metro Denver. The storm started as rain on the 17th…but soon turned to snow. Snowfall amounts totaled 8.5 inches in downtown Denver and 11.0 inches at Stapleton Airport. The highest wind recorded during the storm was 23 mph on the 17th.

In 1961…a major winter storm dumped 10.7 inches of snow at Stapleton Airport. Most of the snow…9.7 inches…fell on the 18th. Winds were light.

In 1994…strong winds buffeted metro Denver. West winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 17th. Other significant wind gusts included 85 mph atop squaw mountain south of Idaho Springs…and 82 mph at Rollinsville southwest of Boulder…both on the 18th.

In 1996…a second storm in less than 3 days dumped heavy snow in the mountains and foothills again…but snowfall amounts across metro Denver ranged from only 2 to 4 inches. The heavy snowfall resulted in several traffic accidents along I-25 and I-70…south and west of Denver respectively. The major accidents involved at least 30 cars and resulted in several minor injuries. The accidents closed both highways for a time. Snowfall totals included 13 inches at Evergreen and 10 inches at conifer. Snowfall totaled only 0.7 inch at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. At Denver International Airport… North winds gusted to 28 mph on the 17th and 39 mph on the 18th.

17-19

In 1933…rain changed to snow on the evening of the 17th and continued through mid-day of the 19th. Snowfall totaled 5.6 inches with 0.83 inch of precipitation in the city. North winds were sustained to 38 mph with gusts to 46 mph on the 18th and to 30 mph with gusts to 43 mph on the 19th.

In 2003…one of the worst blizzards since historic records began in 1872 struck metro Denver with a vengeance. Heavy wet snow accumulating to around 3 feet in the city and to more than 7 feet in the foothills brought transportation to a near standstill. North winds sustained to 30 mph with gusts as high as 41 mph produced drifts to 6 feet in the city. The estimated cost of property damage alone…not including large commercial buildings…was 93 million dollars… Making it the costliest snowstorm ever. Mayor Wellington Webb of Denver said…”this is the storm of the century…a backbreaker…a record breaker…a roof breaker.” Two people died in Aurora from heart attacks after shoveling the heavy wet snow. The National Guard sent 40 soldiers and 20 heavy duty vehicles to rescue stranded travelers along I-70 east of gun club road. The heavy wet snow caused roofs of homes and businesses to collapse. The snow also downed trees…branches…and power lines. Two people were injured when the roofs of their homes collapsed. In Denver alone…at least 258 structures were damaged. In Arvada…a roof collapse at West Gate Stables killed a horse. Up to 135 thousand people lost power during the storm…and it took several days for power to be restored in some areas. Denver International Airport was closed…stranding about 4000 travelers. The weight of the heavy snow caused a 40-foot gash in a portion of the tent roof…forcing the evacuation of that section of the main terminal building. Avalanches in the mountains and foothills closed many roads…including I-70…stranding hundreds of skiers and travelers. Along I-70…an avalanche released by the Colorado department of transportation…blocked the interstate in both directions for several hours. Several residences between Baskerville and Silver Plume were evacuated because of the high avalanche danger. At Eldora Ski Area…270 skiers were stranded when an avalanche closed the main access road. After the storm ended…a military helicopter had to ferry food to the resort until the road could be cleared. The heavy snow trapped thousands of residents in their foothills homes in Jefferson County for several days. Two homes burned to the ground when fire crews could not reach the residences. Some schools remained closed well into the following week. The storm officially dumped 31.8 inches of snow at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport…the most snowfall from a single storm since the all-time record snowfall of 37.5 inches on December 4-5…1913. The storm made March 2003 the snowiest March on record…the 4th snowiest month on record… And the 5th wettest March on record. The 22.9 inches of snow on the 18th into the 19th was the greatest 24 hour snowfall ever recorded in the city during the month of March. The storm was also a drought-buster…breaking 19 consecutive months of below normal precipitation in the city. Snowfall across metro Denver ranged from 2 feet to more than 3 feet. The highest amounts included: 40 inches in Aurora…38 inches in Centennial and 6 miles east of Parker…37 inches at Buckley AFB…35 inches in southwest Denver…34 inches in Louisville… 32 inches in Arvada…31 inches in Broomfield and Westminster… And 22.5 inches in Boulder. In the foothills…snowfall ranged from 3 feet to more than 7 feet. Some of the most impressive storm totals included: 87.5 inches atop Fritz Peak and in Rollinsville…83 inches at cabin creek…74 inches near Bergen Park…73 inches northwest of Evergreen…72 inches in Coal Creek Canyon…70 inches at Georgetown…63 inches near Jamestown…60 inches near Blackhawk…55 inches at Eldora Ski Area…54 inches 8 miles west of Sedalia…and 46.6 inches at Ken Caryl Ranch. The storm was the result of a very moist…intense slow moving Pacific system which tracked across the four corners and into southeastern Colorado…which allowed deep easterly upslope flow to form along the Front Range.

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