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Thornton, Colorado, USA
UpdatedTue, 27-Jul-2021 1:30pm MDT 
 

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Cool temperatures, a good bit of cloud cover Wednesday

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 5:20am MDT

Another kind of “blah” day for Thornton. Daytime hours should stay dry but it will be cool and cloud cover pretty consistent.

Cloudy to mostly cloudy skies start us off then coverage will ease a bit up until early afternoon when it will again build. High temperatures today will top out in the mid to upper 40s.

At this time it looks like we will stay dry until the evening when we could see some light sprinkles of rain. As it gets colder, some snow but with little to know accumulation will be possible overnight. Lows tonight will dip to the low to mid-30s.

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Severe Weather 101 – Floods and Flash Floods

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021 5:05am MDT
The Big Thompson Flood in 1976 claimed the lives of 144 Coloradoans and serves to remind us of the dangers of floods.

The Big Thompson Flood in 1976 claimed the lives of 144 Coloradoans and serves to remind us of the dangers of floods.

For much of Colorado, floods and flash floods present a grave danger to life and property. These usually are the result of one of two things – spring snow melt occurring rapidly or a severe thunderstorm. Colorado is very susceptible to flash flooding and these occur somewhere every year in the state.

The waters from flash floods can move with extraordinary speed and strike with little or not warning.  Their force can be extremely destructive and when coupled with trees, dirt, rocks and other debris they carry downstream, they are deadly.

Flooding is the number one weather killer in the United States.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Floods and Flash Floods

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Tuesday to offer cloudy skies, cool temps and some light precipitation

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 4:57am MDT

A somewhat dreary day ahead for Thornton. A weak system will keep things cool today but moisture is not going to be amounting to much.

Cloudy skies start us off and will be the general rule throughout the day. We might see the coverage weaken a bit mid-day but gray will be dominant. High temperatures will top out in the mid-40s with some breezy mid to late afternoon winds.

As for precipitation, this morning a few flakes of snow / raindrops will be possible but nothing that amounts to anything. Late afternoon brings another chance for showers, initially rain then changing to snow in the evening.

Overnight tonight, some light snow is expected but accumulations will be light, somewhere around a half inch or so. Lows will drop to around 32 degrees.

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Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes and tornado safety

Tuesday, April 13th, 2021 4:40am MDT
Last year's Windsor Tornado highlights the very real danger twisters present in Colorado. Do you know when to do when one strikes?

The 2008 Windsor Tornado highlights the very real danger twisters present in Colorado. Do you know when to do when one strikes?

One fact that may surprise those new to Colorado is that we are actually on the western edge of the infamous Tornado Alley. This large swath of land comprises much of the nation’s midsection and is a unique place as the United States sees more tornadoes than any other place on earth. In fact, tornadoes have been recorded in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii.

Closer to home, Colorado sees our share of these storms. In fact, one metro area county – Weld County – holds the distinction of being the “tornado capital of the world.” With 252 tornados from 1950-2011, no single county in the nation has had more tornadoes! Adams County is number two in the state and isn’t far behind with 156 over that same period.  Granted these numbers are skewed a bit simply due to the sheer size of those counties, but it does serve to highlight the real danger that tornadoes present.

Even here in the metro area tornadoes are a real danger. The Thornton area was struck in 1981, one of the worst tornadoes to strike the Denver area in history. At 2:30 p.m. this tornado touched down and by 2:45 p.m., the tornado had hit Thornton City Hall. The tornado’s destruction sent 53 injured people to hospitals, 25 homes were destroyed and 239 structures were damaged.

One common myth is that tornadoes don't strike metropolitan areas. This has been disproved many times including here in Colorado in 1982 when an F2 tornado struck Thornton. Image courtesy the City of Thornton archives.

One common myth is that tornadoes don’t strike metropolitan areas. This has been disproved many times including here in Colorado in 1981 when an F2 tornado struck Thornton. Image courtesy the City of Thornton archives.

The most well known tornado outbreak in the metro area occurred on June 15, 1988. Five tornadoes resulted in seven injuries and damage in excess of $15 million.

We all of course also remember in 2008 when the town of Windsor, not far from Denver, was struck with an EF-3 tornado that claimed one life and destroyed and damaged hundreds of buildings.

The greatest threat for tornadoes occurs during late spring and early summer when you have a combination of heat and moisture in the lower atmosphere. Here in Colorado, tornadoes are frequent from May through August with June being the most active month.

However, there is no hard and fast rule for when tornadoes strike, as Colorado witnessed on March 29, 2007 when Holly, Colorado was struck by an EF-3 tornado with winds of 165 mph. Two women lost their lives as a result of that event and 160 homes were damaged.

Colorado ranks 10th in terms of the number of tornadoes with 1,911 events from 1950-2011. One good thing is that our high altitude and drier air do make it harder for the monster supercells that spawn the biggest tornadoes to form. Most of our tornadoes are small and short lived. Further, thanks to the wide open spaces of the eastern half of our state, many strike sparsely populated areas. This is reflected in the fact that we rank 38th for tornado related deaths.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes and tornado safety

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Cool temperatures, increasing clouds for Thornton’s Monday

Monday, April 12th, 2021 4:58am MDT

Today is the first in a lengthy string of days of unsettled weather that will last through the week. We start out nice enough today but clouds will be increasing and we may see some light, overnight snow.

Mostly sunny skies will be with us this morning then cloud cover will increase by noon. By sunset it will be only partly clear. Temperatures are going to be on the cool side, some 10 degrees below normal with highs around 50 degrees. Mid to late afternoon will bring some breezy winds.

Tonight, mostly cloudy skies will be above. After midnight, some light snow may fall but with minimal, if any at all, accumulation. Overnight lows will be around 31 degrees.

Looking ahead, every day this week will see below normal temps and some chances for precipitation. Our extended forecast has more details.

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Severe Weather 101 – Watches, Warnings and More

Monday, April 12th, 2021 4:15am MDT
Last year's Windsor tornado highlighted just how dangerous weather in Colorado can be. Are you and your family prepared? Do you know what the watches and warnings all mean?

The 2008 Windsor tornado highlighted just how dangerous weather in Colorado can be. Are you and your family prepared? Do you know what the watches and warnings all mean?

We’ve all seen TV or Internet news of a weather related watch or warning being issued. But, how many really know what they mean? There is a pretty big difference between the two and it is important to be aware just what it means to you so you can take the appropriate precautions.

Dozens of weather related fatalities occur every year in Colorado, many simply out of ignorance. Taking the time to be aware of the conditions around you and taking appropriate action will keep you from becoming a statistic.

Naturally you can get information on current advisories from television as local stations usually do a good job of “crawling” them on the screen when they are issued. This works well if you have a TV available but if not, the radio would be a secondary source. The Internet and the National Weather Service’s website are a great one when at a computer.

The problem with relying on news media or the Internet is that their ability to warn you of a developing weather situation is dependent on your monitoring them.  Severe weather can strike without little warning.  How will you know if severe weather is about to strike if you don’t have the TV or radio on?

Your first line of defense – NOAA All Hazards Radio

NOAA Weather RadioFor just about anywhere, a special radio that picks up the NOAA’s All Hazard Radio broadcasts is the way to go and provides information from the source. Oftentimes simply called a weather radio, we highly recommend every household have one of these.

These radios are relatively inexpensive and allow you to be immediately notified of official National Weather Service warnings, watches, and forecasts as well as other hazard information like earthquakes, avalanches, chemical spills, and even AMBER alerts.  In fact, with these radios, you will be notified at the exact same time the news media is made aware giving you a head start on preparing for a developing situation.

To learn more about these devices and what you should look for when buying one, click here.

A high-tech alternative – Cell phone weather apps

Many people now have smartphones that allow for downloadable apps and weather-related ones are among the most popular.

All of these applications have a number of weather related features in common.  All provide current conditions for either the location the user is in now or for saved locations and all provide some sort of radar.

Most can be configured to sound an alert when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning.  While they are no substitue for a weather radio, these apps provide you with immediate notification no matter where you are at.

For a look at some of these weather apps and their features, click here.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Watches, Warnings and More

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Severe Weather Awareness Week in Colorado gets started

Sunday, April 11th, 2021 5:45am MDT

In 1981 a tornado ripped through Thornton and caused major damage. Last year, funnel clouds were spotted across much of the area. Image courtesy City of Thornton archives.

As is customary as we get further into spring, this coming week has been proclaimed Severe Weather Awareness Week.  This is an opportunity for the public to get reacquainted with the dangers severe weather presents in Colorado.

Tornadoes, lightning, hail, severe wind and flooding are very real hazards that Coloradans face every year during severe weather season.  It is important that you know what to do to protect you and your family.

Just 12 years ago in what was Denver’s weather story of the year, we suffered through a period of unusually severe weather including a tornado that ripped through the Southlands Mall.

Thirteen years ago on May 22nd an EF3 tornado raced north through Weld and Larimer counties resulting in one fatality near Windsor and causing several injuries and destroyed or heavily damaged hundreds of homes.

And of course in 1981 Thornton was the site of the worst tornado to ever strike the Denver metro area.

Tornadoes may get all the press but other severe weather can be damaging and deadly.

Just eight years ago, late summer flooding caused millions of dollars of damage across northeastern Colorado.  It was 45 years ago that thunderstorms brought a raging torrent of water down the Big Thompson and caused one of Colorado’s worst natural disasters.  Eleven years ago hail struck the Thornton area causing damage to homes and vehicles.

In conjunction with the National Weather Service’s statements on Severe Weather Awareness Week, ThorntonWeather.com will be publishing our Severe Weather 101 series.  Each day this week a weather hazard will be discussed in depth and we will outline protective measures you can take to keep yourself and your family safe.  Please be sure to check back every day to read these important message.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Colorado gets started

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

Sunday, April 11th, 2021 5:30am MDT

This Week in Denver Weather History

We are far from finished with winter weather as is clearly shown in our look back at this week in Denver weather history.  There are many occurrences of snowstorms wreaking havoc in the Mile High City.  One such notable event was just five years ago when 1 to 2.5 feet of snow was dumped on the Front Range.

7-12

In 1959…snow falling over a 5-day period totaled 20 to 30 inches just east of the mountains…while over the plains blizzard conditions closed schools and blocked highways. The second big storm in two weeks dumped 16.4 inches of snowfall on Stapleton Airport with the most…11.6 inches… Occurring on the 8th.  East winds gusted to 37 mph on the 9th.  Temperatures dipped into the single digits on the mornings of the 7th and 12th when 7 degrees were registered.  Low temperature records for the dates were set on the 9th…10th…and 12th.  The cold temperatures caused streets to glaze with ice…resulting in the death of a pedestrian who was struck by a car in Denver.  Three people died from heart attacks while shoveling the heavy… Wet snow.

9-11

In 1951…heavy snowfall totaled 9.4 inches at Stapleton Airport.  The storm was accompanied by strong northeast winds gusting to 43 mph.

In 1953…heavy snowfall occurred at Stapleton Airport where 7.9 inches of snow were measured.  North winds gusted to 29 mph.

In 1994…6 to 14 inches of heavy snow buried much of eastern Colorado…closing many schools and I-70 from east of Denver to the Kansas border.  Rain changed to snow on the 9th…and snow continued through the 11th.  Snowfall totaled 5.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport…but maximum snow depth on the ground was only 3 inches on the 10th due to melting.  East winds gusted to 26 mph on the 9th.

In 1995…a major spring storm dumped 8 to 16 inches of snow in the foothills west of Denver.  Snowfall totaled 8.3 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport…but most of the snow melted as it fell with the maximum snow depth on the ground of only 2 inches.  Five-to 6-inch snow accumulations occurred over southern portions of metro Denver and eastward onto the plains.  Northeast winds gusted to 36 mph at Denver International Airport on the 10th.  I-70 was closed for several hours east of Watkins to the Kansas border due to drifting snow and near whiteout conditions.  High temperature of only 29 degrees on the 10th was a record low maximum for the date.

9-12

In 1901…rain changed to snow and totaled 10.8 inches in downtown Denver over the 4 days.  Northeast winds were sustained to 28 mph with gusts to 31 mph on the 11th. Temperatures hovered in the 30’s.

10-11

In 1979…a heavy snow storm produced near-blizzard conditions across eastern Colorado with 10 to 20 inches in the foothills and 4 to 8 inches over the plains.  Winds to 35 mph combined with the snow to produce drifts at least 3 feet deep…closing many roads and causing power outages. Travel was interrupted south of Denver when the storm closed both I-25 and State Highway 83.  Snowfall totaled only 3.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted 37 mph…causing some blowing snow on the 11th.

In 2001…a potent spring storm dumped heavy snow over metro Denver and the adjacent foothills…while a blizzard roared across the plains to the east of Denver.  Snowfall amounts ranged up to a foot and a half across metro Denver and in the foothills.  North to northwest winds at sustained speeds of 40 to 50 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph piled the snow into drifts of 3 to 6 feet deep.  I-25 southbound was closed at lincoln avenue.  I-70 to the east was closed at gun club road.  The combination of heavy wet snow and damaging winds resulted in widespread electrical outages. Denver International Airport was completely shut down for the first time in its brief 6-year history.  Power surges and outages crippled the airport’s massive computer systems. The airport was closed at 5:00 am and did not re-open until mid-afternoon on the 11th.  The power outages resulted in businesses and schools closing.  Over all of northeastern Colorado…there were 220 thousand customers without power… The worst outage in Xcel energy’s history.  Repairs totaled 1.6 million dollars.  Across metro Denver…snow totals included:  18 inches in southeast Aurora…16 inches at centennial airport and Parker…14 inches at Broomfield… 13 inches in Louisville…12 inches at Lakewood and Morrison… 11 inches at Ken Caryl and Thornton…10 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport and in Wheat Ridge…9 inches in Westminster…and 8 inches in Littleton. Thunderstorms preceded the start of the snow on the afternoon of the 10th and were embedded in the snow storm during the early morning hours of the 11th at Denver International Airport where northwest winds gusted to 60 mph on the 11th.  Snow storm totals in the foothills included:  17 inches at Genesee…16 inches at Rollinsville… 14 inches at Intercanyon…13 inches in Coal Creek Canyon and near Evergreen…11 inches at Aspen Springs and Chief Hosa…10 inches at Blackhawk…and 9 inches atop Crow Hill.

In 2005…a strong spring storm produced blizzard conditions in areas to the east of Denver and south of I-76 and near- blizzard conditions across metro Denver.  The combination of heavy snow and strong winds forced the closure of Denver International Airport…stranding thousands of travelers. Long stretches of I-25…I-70…and I-76 were also closed due to extensive blowing and drifting snow.  Snow amounts ranged from 1 to 2.5 feet in and near the eastern foothills and over the Palmer Divide.  Drifts were 2 to 5 feet in depth.  Downed power lines caused scattered electrical outages.  Storm total snowfall amounts in and near the foothills included:  31 inches near Conifer; 27.5 inches in Aspen Springs; 25.5 inches near Sedalia and Blackhawk; 25 inches near Bergen Park and around Genesee; 24.5 inches at Pine Junction and Roxborough park; 24 inches southwest of Boulder; 23.5 inches at Ken Caryl; 23 inches atop Crow Hill and near Larkspur…Evergreen…and Nederland; 21 inches at Eldora Ski Area; 18 inches at Eldorado Springs and near Castle Rock; 17 inches near Chatfield Reservoir and Perry Park; and 16 inches near Jamestown.  Across the city storm total snow amounts were:  22.5 inches in Aurora; 22 inches at Bennett; 20 inches near Arapahoe park and in centennial… Littleton…and south Denver; 17.5 inches near Bennett; 16 inches in Thornton; 15 inches in Lakewood; 14.5 inches in wheat ridge and near Englewood; 14 inches at Lone Rree and in Arvada; and 9.9 inches at Denver Stapleton.  North winds were sustained from 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 46 mph at Denver International Airport on the 10th.

10-12

In 1997…a pacific storm produced heavy snow on the 10th and the 11th in and near the foothills with 6 to 8 inches at Louisville and turkey creek canyon…5 inches at Morrison… And only 3.5 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.  Northeast winds gusted to 24 mph at Denver International Airport.  The storm also brought unseasonably cold weather with 5 new temperature records equaled or broken.  Record low temperatures of 8 and 6 occurred on the 11th and 12th.  Record low maximum temperatures of 20…19…and 30 occurred on the 10th…11th… And 12th respectively.  This was also only the second time on record that the temperature had failed to reach the freezing mark for 3 consecutive days in April.

10-14

In 1927…post-frontal rain on the 10th changed to snow on the 11th and continued through the 14th.  Snowfall totaled 8.5 inches from precipitation of 1.28 inches.  North winds were sustained to 26 mph with gusts to 29 mph on the 13th.

11

In 1954…strong and gusty southeast winds blew all day. Winds as high as 30 mph with gusts to 50 mph produced some blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.

In 1966…a tornado was sighted in an open area of southeast Denver.  Slight wind damage in the area was not directly attributable to the tornado.  Later in the day…a pilot reported a funnel cloud 10 miles southwest of Denver. Hail to 1/2 inch in diameter fell at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1984…strong Chinook winds gusted to 72 mph at Rocky Flats south of Boulder; speeds reached 70 mph in both Lakewood and Boulder.  At Stapleton International Airport… Northwest wind gusts to 52 mph were recorded.

In 2004…an afternoon cold front produced north winds sustained to 36 mph with gusts to 53 mph at Denver International Airport.  Light snowfall was 1.1 inches at Denver Stapleton through the evening.

11-12

In 1876…heavy snow began during the late afternoon of the 11th and continued through the night.  Light snow ended around mid-morning of the 12th.  The amount of snow was not measured…but precipitation totaled 0.70 inch…which would be around 7 inches of estimated snowfall.  Strong winds accompanied the heavy snowfall.

In 1896…post-frontal light rain changed to light snow overnight…but totaled only a trace.  Northeast winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts as high as 62 mph on the 12th.

In 1991…a strong pacific storm dumped heavy snow across metro Denver with amounts of 6 to 15 inches at lower elevations and up to almost 2 feet in the foothills west of Denver.  Snowfall reports included:  21 inches at Idaho Springs…19 inches at Aspen Springs…15 inches in Arvada… 14 inches at Rollinsville…10 inches in Boulder…8 inches in Aurora…and 7.3 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 24 mph on the 11th.

12

In 1906…north winds were sustained to 52 mph in the city.

In 1916…post-frontal north winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 42 mph.  Light rain also occurred.

In 1964…strong gusty winds raked metro Denver.  Wind gusts estimated to 60 mph or higher caused widespread damage to buildings and power lines.  Blowing dust closed some roads. A wind gust to 46 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1967…microburst winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1982…wind gusts to 60 mph were reported in and near the foothills.  Wind gusts to 44 mph were recorded at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1987…snow fell over metro Denver…causing traffic tie-ups on the roads and at Stapleton International Airport where some flights were delayed for 90 minutes.  I-25 south of Denver was closed for a time due to numerous traffic accidents.  While only 4.2 inches of snow fell in Denver… Foothills to the southwest received 6 to 12 inches of snow. North winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the maximum snow depth on the ground was only 2 inches due to melting.

12-13

In 1922…post-frontal rain changed to heavy snow…which totaled 7.0 inches in downtown Denver.  This was the second snow in 3 days.  North winds were sustained to 29 mph with gusts to 31 mph on the 12th.

In 1993…heavy snow occurred in the foothills northwest of Denver with 21 inches recorded at the Eldora Ski Area. Only 1.9 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 32 mph on the 13th. Most of the precipitation from the storm fell as rain across the city with 0.62 inch of precipitation measured at Stapleton International Airport.

12-14

In 1933…heavy snowfall of 5.6 inches occurred in downtown Denver on the 12th and 13th behind a vigorous cold front… Which presented an awe-inspiring spectacle as it approached the station during the late afternoon of the 12th.  Brilliant white wind-torn cumulus clouds were sandwiched by a brownish- tan dust cloud at the surface and dark blue cumulus clouds above.  The dust cloud storm rapidly enveloped the station with northeast winds sustained to 38 mph and gusts to 44 mph producing much blowing dust…which was accompanied by rapidly falling temperatures and rising pressure.  Moist snowfall started in about an hour and continued to midday on the 13th. Record low temperatures of 17 and 15 degrees occurred on the 13th and 14th respectively.  The high temperature of only 27 degrees on the 13th was a record low maximum for the date.

12-15

In 1927…snowfall totaled 8.5 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow fell on the 14th.  Northwest winds were sustained to 27 mph during the storm.

13

In 1873…heavy snow started with fresh and brisk north winds around 9:00 am…and continued heavy until 2:00 pm and lightly until 7:00 pm.  Temperatures were below freezing for most of the day…but the snow melted almost as fast as it fell.  Precipitation from the melted snow totaled 0.70 inches.  This would be around 7.0 inches of estimated snowfall.

In 1912…a severe wind and dust storm struck the city. West winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 42 mph.

In 1967…a late season snow storm affected areas along the eastern foothills from Denver south.  Snowfall between 2 and 3 feet closed I-25 between Denver and Colorado Springs. In Denver…snowfall was only 3.6 inches…but precipitation from the storm totaled 3.25 inches…the greatest 24-hour precipitation ever recorded during the month of April. North winds gusted to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport.  Temperatures across the city were in the 30’s most of the day.

In 1974…a major spring snow storm dumped 8.5 inches of heavy wet snow at Stapleton International Airport where north wind gusts to 38 mph produced some blowing snow.  The storm caused minor damage to public utilities.

In 1986…strong winds howled across metro Denver.  Boulder reported a peak gust of 79 mph.  Wind gusts of 55 to 60 mph were common across all of metro Denver.  There were power outages.  The wind toppled a brick wall under construction in Arvada…and also damaged luxury sky boxes under construction atop mile high stadium in Denver.  Road signs in Arvada were damaged.  West winds gusted to 56 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 2014…a storm system brought heavy snow to areas in and near the Front Range Foothills. Storm totals included: 13 inches near Conifer; 12.5 inches near Ward; 11.5 inches near Nederland; 10 inches near Allenspark…Golden and Gold Hill; with 8.5 inches at Roxborough State Park.

» Click here to read the rest of April 11 to April 17: This week in Denver weather history

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Thornton’s weekend to offer some unsettled conditions, some pleasant ones

Friday, April 9th, 2021 5:08am MDT

A little bit of a mixed bag of weather for us over the three-day period. We will have two days of cool temps and breezy winds broken up in the middle by a pleasant, spring day.

For Friday, the early morning might bring a few drops of rain / flakes of snow but that is pretty unlikely. We will see clouds increase this morning leading to mostly / partly sunny skies. Highs will top out in the mid to upper 50s. The biggest story will be very breezy conditions that will be with us throughout the day. Tonight, winds will settle, skies will clear and lows will drop to around freezing.

Saturday looks to be the most pleasant day of the weekend. Sunny skies will be above with temperatures pushing close to 70 degrees. Winds might be just a bit breezy in the afternoon. Saturday night into Sunday morning, skies will be mostly clear with lows in the mid-30s.

Sunday sees another weak system make itself felt. Mostly sunny skies will be above but again with some breezy winds through much of the day. Highs will be in the mid to upper 50s.

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Mild temperatures, some breezy winds for Thornton’s Thursday

Thursday, April 8th, 2021 5:10am MDT

A pretty decent day ahead for us. We will enjoy a good dose of sun and temps above normal although there will be some breezy winds.

Sunny to mostly sunny skies start us off and will be with us through the morning. The afternoon may bring a few clouds. High temperatures will top out about 10 degrees above normal and near 70 degrees. Winds will be light initially then come a bit breezy in the afternoon.

Tonight, skies will be mostly clear with overnight lows near 40 degrees.

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