This time of year snow is a common occurrence but in our look back at this week in Denver weather history we are struck by the lack of significant snow events in the history books for the period. What we do see instead are a number of high wind events, many of which caused widespread damage.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1939…more than 2 weeks of unseasonably warm weather made the month the 3rd warmest on record. Seven daily temperature records were set…including the all time record high temperature for the month of 79 degrees on the 5th. Daytime highs were balmy with 14 days in the 60’s and 70’s. Low temperatures dipped to freezing or below on only 5 days. The period was dry with only a trace of snow on the 12th.
In 1972…a protracted cold spell held an icy grip on metro Denver when maximum temperatures never reached above freezing for 10 consecutive days from the 3rd through the 12th and minimum temperatures dipped below zero on eleven consecutive days from the 5th through the 15th. Daily low temperature records were set with 15 degrees below zero on the 5th…17 degrees below zero on the 6th… And 18 degrees below zero on the 10th. Daily record low maximum readings were set with 3 degrees on the 6th and 6 degrees on the 9th. The very cold temperatures were caused by 3 to 5 inches of snow cover and a Canadian air mass.
In 1932…the second longest sub-zero period on record in Denver occurred. The temperature fell below zero shortly after 1:00 pm on the 8th and remained below zero for 92 hours until 9:00 am on the 12th. The lowest temperature recorded during this period was 13 degrees below zero on both the 9th and 11th. That temperature on the 11th was a record low for the date. High temperatures of 4 on the 8th…5 below zero on the 9th…1 below zero on the 10th… And 6 below zero on the 11th were record low maximum temperatures for those dates. Light north winds at 5 to 10 mph were accompanied by occasional light snow…which totaled only 2.2 inches.
In 1961…cold arctic air produced a protracted cold period. The temperature plunged to 16 degrees below zero on the 10th…establishing a new record for the date and the coldest reading since 25 degrees below zero on February 1… 1951. Low temperatures dipped below zero on 5 consecutive days with 9 degrees below zero on the 9th…16 below on the 10th…10 below on the 11th…and 12 below on both the 12th and 13th. High temperatures reached only 3 degrees on the 10th and 6 degrees on the 11th.
In 1953…snowfall totaled 3.8 inches at Stapleton Airport where northeast winds were sustained at speeds to 47 mph and gusted to 60 mph behind a cold front.
In 1969…sustained winds of 30 mph with gusts to 55 mph in downtown Boulder caused minor damage. Northwest winds gusted to 39 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1980…winds to 60 mph whistled through Boulder.
In 1987…strong winds in the foothills spread over northern portions of metro Denver. Wind gusts of 60 to 75 mph were common in Boulder and southwestern weld counties. However… The highest reported wind gust…94 mph…occurred near Rollinsville. A northwest wind gust to 36 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1933…downslope winds produced warm temperatures…resulting in record high minimums of 46 degrees on the 10th and 44 degrees on the 11th. High temperatures of 66 degrees on the 10th and 62 degrees on the 11th were not records. Southwest winds were sustained to 16 mph on the 10th.
In 1939…high temperatures of 70 degrees on the 10th and 74 degrees on the 11th were record maximums for the dates. The low temperatures of 39 degrees on the 10th and 41 degrees on the 11th were not records.
In 1948…high winds in Boulder and Louisville caused 1750 dollars in damage. Wind gusts in excess of 70 mph were reported at Valmont and Boulder airport. Chinook wind gusts to 60 mph briefly reduced the visibility to 1/4 mile in blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.
In 1989…the season’s greatest snowfall to date hit metro Denver with 6 to 12 inches of snow. Flight delays at Stapleton International Airport reached 2 hours. Multiple wrecks snarled traffic on I-25 both north and south of the city. Snowfall totaled 7.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 25 mph on the 10th.
In 1938…snowfall totaled 3.7 inches in downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 21 mph with an extreme velocity to 22 mph.
In 1967…wind gusts to 58 mph in downtown Boulder caused minor damage. Northwest winds gusted to 47 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1980…winds to 60 mph were reported in Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 23 mph at Stapleton International Airport. The Chinook winds warmed temperatures to a high of 67 degrees.
In 1994…strong gusty winds occurred along the Front Range eastern foothills. A wind gust to 67 mph was recorded in Boulder with a gust to 58 mph measured at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. No damage was reported. Northwest winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1903…a sharp cold front on the 11th plunged temperatures from a high of 59 degrees to a low of 15 degrees…produced northeast winds sustained to 42 mph along with gusts as high as 60 mph…and produced 1.3 inches of snow overnight. The high temperature on the 12th was only 25 degrees.
In 1968…strong winds buffeted the eastern foothills and plains and caused light…but widespread property damage. Wind gusts of 50 to 75 mph were reported. West winds gusted to 52 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1940…5.4 inches of snow fell across downtown Denver. This was the only snowfall of the month. Temperatures were quite cold on the 13th with a high of 6 degrees and a low of 2 degrees below zero.
In 1984…up to 6 inches of new snow fell over metro Denver… Hampering flight operations at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled 3.8 inches and east winds gusted to 25 mph on the 11th. Continue reading December 10 to December 16: This week in Denver weather history