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March 3 to March 9: This Week in Denver Weather History

Thursday, March 7th, 2013 6:37pm MDT
This Week In Denver Weather History

March 3 to March 9: This Week in Denver Weather History

The month of March sometimes brings with it some of our most interesting weather with a wide variety of conditions possible. Our look back at this week in Denver weather history showcases this fact as we see damaging, high wind events, monster snow storms, and even thunderstorms.

From the National Weather Service:

2-3

In 1901…strong northwest winds raked the city for 2 days. On the 2nd…winds were sustained to 55 mph with gusts to 62 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 72 degrees…a record maximum for the date. On the 3rd…winds were sustained to 61 mph with gusts as high as 65 mph. The high temperature was 59 degrees.

In 1964…heavy snowfall of 6.3 inches was measured at Stapleton International Airport. East winds gusted to only 20 mph behind a cold front.

In 1978…5.0 inches of snowfall were measured at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 24 mph on the 2nd. The passage of a cold Canadian front kept temperatures only in the teens and 20′s on the 2nd after a high temperature of 33 degrees shortly after midnight. The temperature…after a morning low of 3 degrees below zero…climbed to only 14 degrees on the 3rd…setting a record low maximum for the date.

2-4

In 1963…heavy wet snow was accompanied by strong gusty winds across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 11.6 inches at Stapleton Airport where north winds gusting to 44 mph caused much blowing and drifting snow. Hazardous driving conditions resulted in many traffic accidents.

In 1976…snowfall totaled 8.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where…on the 4th…northeast winds gusted to 31 mph reducing the visibility to as low as 1/4 mile. Maximum snow depth on the ground was 7 inches. Nine inches of snow were measured in Boulder.

3

In 1875…six inches of snow fell in Georgetown.

In 1895…northwest bora winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 58 mph in the city.

In 1966…cold northwest wind gusts of 50 to 90 mph occurred across metro Denver. Both cars and trucks were blown off an icy highway just east of Denver where some highways were closed by either blowing dust or blowing snow. A northwest wind gust to 43 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport. The strong winds caused limited minor damage.

In 1972…winds gusted to 55 mph in Boulder causing no reported damage. West winds gusted to 49 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1985…snow struck metro Denver. Heaviest hit was Boulder where 6 to 8 inches were measured. Icy roads caused the closure of I-25 north and south of Denver due to traffic accidents. The snow also caused long delays at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled only 2.6 inches.

In 1997…west winds gusted to 52 mph at Denver International Airport.

3-4

In 1932…a dust storm occurred on the 3rd during the late afternoon. North winds gusting as high as 38 mph behind a cold front kicked up much blowing dust. Light snow developed during the evening and continued through the early morning of the 4th. Snowfall totaled 2.7 inches.

In 1934…strong winds raked Boulder. A wind gust to 62 mph was recorded at Valmont just east of Boulder. The strong winds caused hundreds of dollars of damage in Boulder.

In 1981…the most vigorous snow storm of the season struck the state…closing many schools and most highways connecting Denver…Colorado Springs…and Limon. North winds gusting to 43 mph whipped nearly 10 inches of snow in Denver into 3-foot drifts and snarled traffic on the morning of the 4th. Snowfall totaled 9.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1989…a storm dumped 2 to 6 inches of snow across metro Denver. The snow caused 2-hour air traffic delays at Stapleton International Airport where 3.0 inches of snow fell and north winds gusted to 23 mph on the 3rd. There were many traffic accidents across metro Denver. I-70 was closed east of Denver for a time on the 3rd.

In 1991…high winds raked the eastern foothills. Wind gusts of 60 to 90 mph were common with 119 mph recorded at Wondervu southwest of Boulder…106 mph on Shanahan Ridge and 92 mph at Table Mesa…both in southwest Boulder. Several trees were uprooted and traffic signs and lights blown over. Flying debris caused damage to homes… Buildings…and cars.

In Boulder…a stop sign was blown onto a car. There were no reports of injuries. Southwest winds gusting as high as 48 mph briefly reduced the prevailing visibility to as low as 1/16th mile in blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport on the 4th.

3-5

In 1961…snowfall totaled 8.3 inches at Stapleton Airport over the 3-day period with most of the snow…4.4 inches… Falling on the 3rd. Winds were generally light gusting to only 23 mph.

4

In 1887…snowfall was only 0.1 inch. This was the earliest last measurable snow of the season.

In 1971…a wind gust to 102 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. A wind gust to 83 mph was measured at the National Bureau of Standards. In downtown Boulder…sustained winds reached 35 mph with gusts as high as 57 mph. No significant damage was reported. West winds gusted to only 28 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1982…brief heavy snow accompanied by a few thunderstorms struck metro Denver. Lightning struck a house in Arvada setting it afire. The thunderstorm produced 5 inches of snowfall in a 2-hour period in Wheat Ridge. The snow made roads very icy and slick causing a 59-car pile-up on I-70 in north Denver. Snowfall with thunder totaled only 1.3 inches at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1997…a fast moving pacific storm produced heavy snow in the foothills. Snowfall at Conifer measured 9 inches. Only light snow fell elsewhere over metro Denver. Snowfall totaled only 1.2 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North northeast winds gusted to 28 mph at Denver International Airport.

4-5

In 1971…heavy post-frontal snowfall totaled 7.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 28 mph.

In 1992…snow spread from the mountains into the eastern foothills where 19 inches fell in Coal Creek Canyon. Rain fell over lower elevations of metro Denver with 1.12 inches of precipitation recorded at Stapleton International Airport and only one half inch of snow. North winds gusted to 32 mph.

In 2004…snowfall totaled 1.8 inches at the Denver Stapleton site. This was the only measurable snowfall of the month. Northeast winds gusted to 29 mph at Denver International Airport.

4-6

In 1931…a cold front with north winds gusting to 35 mph on the evening of the 4th brought snowfall on the 5th into the early morning of the 6th. Heavy snowfall totaled 6.2 inches. Temperatures plunged from a high of 58 degrees on the 4th to a low of only 22 degrees by midnight…which was also the high reading on the 5th.

In 1983…a slow moving moisture laden storm produced heavy snow and rain. Two to three feet of snow fell in the foothills at Wondervu and Nederland. The southern portion of metro Denver was buried with 26 inches of snow in southeast Aurora…25 inches at Franktown…and 19 inches at Littleton. Snowfall totaled 18.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport with most of the snow…18.0 inches… Falling on the 5th. Brighton received only 11 inches of new snow. Boulder was drenched by rain and received no snow. Precipitation from the storm totaled 3.06 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 28 mph. The heavy wet snow snapped many tree limbs…which fell on power and phone lines causing many outages. Numerous highways were closed. Two thousand travelers were stranded at Stapleton International Airport where only one runway was open for a time. Many flights were canceled. One home in Denver was severely damaged when its roof collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. The 2.68 inches of precipitation on the 5th was the greatest calendar day precipitation ever recorded in the city during March. The 2.79 inches of precipitation on the 4th and 5th was the greatest 24 hour precipitation ever measured during March.

5

In 1887…the longest snow-free period on record…232 days… Began. The last measurable snowfall of the season…0.1 inch…occurred on the 4th. The first measurable snow of the next season…0.3 inch…occurred on October 23rd.

In 1900…northwest winds were sustained to 51 mph with gusts to 60 mph. The strong bora winds warmed the temperature to a high of 44 degrees.

In 1926…post-frontal north winds were sustained to 44 mph with gusts as high as 54 mph. The cold front also produced a thunderstorm.

In 1990…the southern portion of metro Denver was hit by a line of thunderstorms. Heavy rain…0.90 to 2.40 inches… And pea to marble size hail piled to a depth of 2 to 3 inches over portions of northern and eastern Douglas and western Arapahoe counties. Thunderstorm winds to 50 mph were clocked at Centennial Airport. Thunderstorm rainfall was 0.62 inch at Stapleton International Airport.

5-6

In 1935…3.0 inches of snow fell in downtown Denver. This was the only measurable snow of the month. Northwest winds gusted to 29 mph on the 5th.

In 1940…heavy snowfall totaled 9.1 inches over downtown Denver. North winds gusted to 22 mph.

In 2000…high winds developed in and near the foothills just prior to the passage of an upper level storm system moving in from the west. Peak gusts from the windstorm included: 88 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research near Boulder…82 mph in Boulder…80 mph at the national wind technology center south of Boulder…79 mph on Rocky Flats…and 71 mph in Golden Gate Canyon. Several power lines were downed causing a few brief outages. Thunderstorms produced southeast wind gusts to 51 mph at Denver International Airport on the 5th.

In 2003…high winds spread from the mountains down the eastern slopes. The highest wind gusts were 85 mph atop the Gamow Tower on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder and 70 mph at the national wind technology center on Rocky Flats west of Broomfield. West winds gusted to 44 mph at Denver International Airport on the 6th.

6

In 1900…west winds were sustained to 41 mph with gusts to 49 mph.

In 1920…the high temperature warmed to only 6 degrees… The all-time record low maximum temperature for the month of March. The same reading also occurred on March 10…1948.

In 1972…a wind gust to 100 mph was recorded at Jefferson County Airport in Broomfield. Winds gusted in Boulder at speeds of 50 to 65 mph. A light plane was overturned… And there was damage to other planes at Boulder Airport. The roof of a garage was blown off…and a mobile home was overturned in Boulder. A truck was blown off the highway 15 miles east of Boulder. West winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The warm Chinook winds were responsible for setting a new record high temperature for the date of 75 degrees…exceeding the old record of 72 degrees set in 1925.

In 1990…a blizzard pummeled metro Denver. Snow fell at a rate of 2 to 3 inches an hour. Gusty north winds whipped the snow into 2- to 3-foot drifts by noon. During the afternoon many stores and schools closed. By rush hour sustained winds of 35 to 46 mph and gusts to 58 mph reduced visibilities to near zero and whipped the new snow into 3- to 4-foot drifts. Many residential as well as secondary and primary roads became impassable. I-25 and I-70 were closed in and out of the city. Road crews cleared drifts as high as 12 feet in southeast Boulder and northwest Adams counties. Several hundred rush hour commuters…including the state’s governor…were caught in the blizzard conditions along a 15-mile stretch of the Denver-Boulder turnpike. Many remained snowbound in their vehicles up to 8 hours until rescued by police and the National Guard. The highway remained closed until mid-day on the 7th. Shelters for stranded commuters and travelers were opened in Broomfield and Castle Rock. Many workers didn’t even try to go home…but filled downtown hotels to near capacity. By early evening…Stapleton International Airport was shut down after an airliner with 82 passengers aboard skidded off a runway. Snowfall totals for the storm varied from 18 to 50 inches in the foothills above 6 thousand feet…9 to 24 inches west of I-25…and 2 to 12 inches over eastern metro Denver. Snowfall from the storm totaled 11.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where the maximum snow depth on the ground was 7 inches due to melting.

In 2004…very strong downslope winds developed in and near the eastern foothills…causing numerous traffic accidents and extensive property damage to roofs and aluminum sheds. Three semi-trucks were toppled by the strong winds near the I-70 and C-470 interchange. One of the trucks was carrying a modular home…while another was hauling hazardous material. I-70 had to be closed in both directions until the accidents could be cleaned up. Strong winds forced the closure of State Highway 93 between Golden and Boulder…when the road became icy and snowpacked from localized ground blizzards. Another semi- truck was blown over near the intersection of State Highways 72 and 93 atop Rocky Flats. Scattered power outages were reported across northern and western sections of metro Denver…affecting around 2000 residents. In Boulder…several pine trees were uprooted by the high winds.

6-7

In 1981…a storm dumped 4 to 8 inches of snow over higher elevations between Denver and Colorado springs. At Stapleton International Airport…north winds gusted to 16 mph and snowfall totaled only 2.5 inches.

In 1998…heavy snow fell over portions of metro Denver and the adjacent foothills. Snowfall totals included 11 inches at Chief Hosa…10 inches near Evergreen…8.5 inches in Broomfield…8 inches at Bailey…and 7 inches at both Standley Lake and Thornton. Elsewhere…snowfall across metro Denver ranged from 3 to 6 inches with 4.9 inches measured at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. North winds gusted to 26 mph at Denver International Airport on the 7th. Several accidents occurred along area roads and highways when they became icy and snowpacked.

6-8

In 1932…snowfall totaled 6.3 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow…5.2 inches…fell on the 8th. Northeast winds gusted to 20 mph on the 6th.

7

In 1872…heavy rain started shortly after midnight and soon turned to sleet…which continued to just after sunrise…the ground at that time not even being white. At about 7:00 am the worst snow storm of the winter commenced and continued until 10:00 pm…snowing heavily nearly all the time. North winds averaged a sustained speed of 25 mph. About 8 inches of snow fell…but it drifted too much to obtain a direct measurement.

In 1901…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts as high as 58 mph. The strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 70 degrees.

In 1902…northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 53 mph.

In 1950…strong north winds at 40 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph produced a dust storm across metro Denver. At Stapleton Airport…blowing dust reduced visibility to as low as 1/4 mile for most of the day.

In 1972…northwest winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The Chinook winds warmed temperatures to a high of 64 degrees.

In 1984…a wind gust to 63 mph was recorded at Golden Gate Canyon west of Denver. West winds gusted to 39 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

7-8

In 1878…snow from the evening of the 7th until noon of the 8th totaled only 5 inches in downtown Denver. Apparent heavier snow over the plains along with strong winds drifted the snow into high drifts…which delayed trains for several days and caused a great loss of livestock. Melting of the snow caused a rise in Cherry Creek…which resulted in much damage. Precipitation from the storm totaled only 0.50 inch in Denver.

In 2000…high winds developed in and near the Front Range foothills…as well as parts of the northeast Colorado plains as another pacific storm system moved across the area. Several trees and power lines were downed near Blackhawk…Boulder…and in Coal Creek Canyon. About 30 homes in the Pinebrook Hills subdivision in Boulder were evacuated when downed power lines sparked a grassfire. The winds eventually shifted the fire onto itself…thus allowing firefighters to contain the two acre blaze. Several roofs were blown off barns…sheds… And garages. Two semi-trailers were blown over…one along C-470 between Golden and Morrison and another north of Denver on I-25. Wind gusts reached 101 mph on Rocky Flats…100 mph at the nearby National Wind Technology Center…90 mph at Blackhawk and atop Blue Mountain…92 mph in south Boulder…73 mph in Coal Creek Canyon…72 mph in Golden…and 70 mph at Louisville. Northwest winds gusted to 45 mph on the 7th and to 49 mph on the 8th at Denver International Airport.

8

In 1878…winds started to increase at 4:00 am and blew steadily at sustained speeds of 36 to 40 mph with a maximum sustained speed of 60 mph around 11:00 am. Snowfall of 5.0 inches occurred in the city…but much more snow fell on the plains…which blockaded trains bound for the city for several days.

In 1898…northwest winds sustained to 53 mph with gusts to 60 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 67 degrees.

In 1908…light snowfall of 0.8 inch produced only 0.01 inch of precipitation. This along with the 0.10 inch of precipitation on the 21st resulted in the driest March on record with a total of 0.11 inch of precipitation.

In 1986…temperatures climbed from a record high minimum of 45 degrees to a record maximum of 72 degrees for the day.

In 2005…a vigorous cold front moved a wall of blowing dust across metro Denver during the mid-morning. At Denver International Airport…north winds sustained to 48 mph with gusts as high as 55 mph…along with very light rain which changed to snow…briefly reduced the surface visibility to 1 mile. A thunderstorm formed over Arvada. With the passage of the cold front…the temperature plunged 11 degrees in just 16 minutes at Denver International Airport where precipitation was only 0.01 inch along with 0.1 inch of snow.

8-9

In 1992…a major blizzard struck metro Denver. The storm was preceded by thunderstorms with small hail during the afternoon of the 8th. By evening…with the passage of a strong arctic cold front…snow began falling. Strong north to northeast winds at 30 to 40 mph with gusts to 52 mph produced near zero visibilities in blizzard conditions across metro Denver. By the morning of the 9th…snowfall amounts up to a foot and a half were reported with drifts of 2 to 4 feet. Many roads were closed including I-70 east of Denver and I-25 both north and south of Denver. Many homes and stores were temporarily without power. Snowfall amounts included: 18 inches at Conifer…13 inches in Boulder and Denver…12 inches at Brighton and Morrison…and 10 inches at Aurora. Snowfall totaled 12.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusting as high as 52 mph reduced the visibility to zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow.

In 2002…high winds occurred in the foothills west of Denver. Winds gusted to 95 mph near Fritz Peak and to 73 mph near Nederland.

8-10

In 1989…unusually warm weather set four daily temperature records in Denver. The high temperature of 74 degrees on the 8th exceeded the record. Records were equaled on the 9th with a high of 77 degrees and the 10th with a high of 79 degrees. The low temperature of 42 degrees on the 10th set a new record high minimum for the date.

9

In 1918…northwest winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts as high as 52 mph occurred during the early morning hours.

In 1960…west-northwest winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton Airport.

In 1980…high winds were recorded in the foothills with a wind gust to 84 mph at Wondervu. Northwest winds gusted to 38 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1982…strong Chinook winds buffeted the foothills in Boulder. Wind gusts of 60 to 90 mph toppled a microwave dish antenna and blew the shell off a camper. West winds gusted to 47 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1986…high winds in the foothills with gusts of 60 to 70 mph were reported at Golden Gate Canyon and in Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

9-10

In 1904…strong Chinook winds raked the city for 2 days. On the 9th…west winds sustained to 53 mph with gusts to 62 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees. On the 10th… West winds were sustained to 48 mph with gusts to 54 mph. The high temperature was 58 degrees.

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.

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