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A little bit of improvement in the temperatures today as we head back to work after the holiday weekend. There will be lots of blue above and conditions will be calm and dry. Look for sunny skies to be above throughout the day. Winds will be light. High temperatures will reach the mid-40s. Tonight, skies will remain clear. Lows will dip to around 20 degrees.
Cold, snow and wind are the dominant conditions we see in our look back at this week in Denver weather history. All three are common this time of year and extremes with those conditions seem to be unusually common as well.
Among the highlights are numerous high wind events that not only caused damage but also injury to unprepared residents. Significant snowfall also appears many times including a storm in 1983 that shut down the city for the Thanksgiving weekend and left snow on the ground for 63 days.
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From the National Weather Service:
In 1887…snowfall totaled 2.9 inches in the city. This was the only measurable snow of the month. Northeast winds were sustained to 18 mph on the 26th when the temperature dipped to 12 degrees below zero.
In 1959…a sharp cold front produced a northwest wind gust to 51 mph…followed by snow and falling temperatures from a high of 60 degrees to a low of 23 degrees at midnight on the 25th. Snowfall totaled 4.4 inches at Stapleton Airport before ending early on the 26th.
In 1972…winds gusted to 104 mph at the Rocky Flats plant south of Boulder. Gusts to 70 mph were recorded at the National Bureau of Standards in Boulder…while in downtown Boulder winds peaked to 68 mph. Some damage was reported. Northwest winds gusted to 47 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 26th.
In 1984…blowing snow closed I-70 east of Denver…stranding over a thousand travelers in Limon. Denver received only 2.3 inches of snowfall. North winds gusted to 31 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1999…strong Chinook winds redeveloped overnight in and near the foothills. Peak wind gusts included 72 mph atop Blue Mountain near Wondervu and at the National Center for Atmospheric Research mesa lab above Boulder.
In 1978…heavy snowfall of 6.0 inches was measured at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 20 mph. Most of the snow…4.8 inches…fell on the 25th. The greatest amount of snow measured on the ground was 5 inches due to settling and melting.
In 1952…the average coldest 4-day period in November in the previous 81 years of record occurred. Maximum temperatures of 19…15…21…and 25 degrees were recorded. Minimum temperatures were below zero each day with readings of 7 below…6 below…5 below…and 6 below.
In 1985…dense fog with visibilities as low as 1/8 mile occurred on five consecutive days at Stapleton International Airport. The fog was at times accompanied by light snow… Light freezing drizzle…or ice crystals. Fog occurred all day on both the 26th and 29th.
In 1873…west winds increased to a violent gale at 3:00 am and reached a maximum sustained velocity of 56 mph at 3:15 am. The winds continued with a velocity of not less than 40 mph until 6:00 am. Winds continued brisk for the remainder of the day. The strong winds caused damage to houses and buildings in the city. Temperatures were in the 50’s through early afternoon with a recorded high of 59 degrees. Winds also blew strongly in Boulder and caused 300 dollars in damage.
In 1911…post-frontal northeast winds were sustained to 43 mph with gusts as high as 52 mph. Snowfall was only 0.5 inch.
In 1965…post-frontal snowfall totaled 5.5 inches at Stapleton International Airport where strong west winds gusted to 39 mph during the afternoon.
In 1976…2 to 4 inches of snow with an arctic cold front produced near zero visibility at times in blowing snow… Causing multiple automobile accidents in metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 3.5 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 39 mph. Temperatures hovered in the teens and lower 20’s most of the day dipping to 7 degrees by midnight.
In 1977 a strong wind storm raked metro Denver. High winds blew windows from office towers in Denver and Boulder. Thirteen people were injured in Boulder due to flying debris. Wind gusts to 119 mph were clocked on Davidson Mesa southeast of Boulder…with 109 mph in downtown Boulder. Six airplanes were damaged at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. Winds to 90 mph were reported in Lakewood. Glass was blown out of several vehicles in Wheat Ridge…and roofs were blown off 4 houses in Arvada. Several houses under construction collapsed across metro Denver. Winds to 75 mph were reported at the Denver Federal Center with 90 mph at Rocky Flats. West winds gusted to 51 mph at Stapleton International Airport. Total insured damage from the wind storm was 2.2 million dollars.
In 1987…a thanksgiving snowstorm brought 5 inches of snow to metro Denver and 6 inches to the foothills. At Stapleton International Airport…snowfall totaled 5.0 inches…north winds gusted to 22 mph…and temperatures hovered in the upper 20’s most of the day.
In 1991…strong winds were recorded in and near the eastern foothills. Winds at Rollinsville were clocked to 70 mph with 45 mph recorded in Boulder and 51 mph at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission Rocky Flats plant. West winds gusted to only 28 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1876…heavy snowfall totaled 9.0 inches over the city from 5:00 pm on the 26th through 5:00 p.m. on the 27th. Precipitation was 0.30 inch on the 25th and 0.60 inch on the 27th.
In 1919…an incursion of cold arctic air produced snowfall of 4.6 inches over downtown Denver. Temperatures dipped to 5 degrees below zero on the evening of the 26th and recovered to a high of only 1 degree below zero on the 27th…the all-time record low maximum for the month of November and the record for the date. Northwest winds were sustained to 25 mph with gusts to 26 mph on the 26th.
In 1923…snowfall of 2.0 inches was the only snow of the month. North winds were sustained to 22 mph on the 26th.
In 1972…heavy snowfall totaled 7.5 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to only 18 mph on the 27th.
In 1983…a Thanksgiving blizzard dumped 21.5 inches of snowfall in 37 hours with a maximum of 18 inches on the ground at Stapleton International Airport. The storm produced howling winds…which paralyzed Thanksgiving weekend transportation across all of eastern Colorado. On the 27th…Stapleton International Airport closed… Opening 24 hours later. Interstate highways were closed in all directions…but west…from Denver. At Stapleton International Airport…north winds gusted to 36 mph on the 26th and to 29 mph on the 27th. However…most wind speeds across metro Denver were 15 to 30 mph. Temperatures hovered in the teens and lower 20’s. Many stores and businesses closed. Several high school football games were postponed. Across metro Denver…snow depth varied from 15 inches in Commerce City to 28 inches near Chatfield Reservoir. Snow removal in Denver was estimated at 1.5 million dollars. Following the storm… An inch or more of snow remained on the ground for 63 consecutive days through January 27…1984. This is the longest period of continuous snow cover ever recorded in Denver.
In 1990…an early winter storm deposited 2 to 8 inches of wet snow across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 3.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 30 mph on the 26th.
In 1993…strong winds swept off the foothills across metro Denver. Sustained winds of 30 to 50 mph were common across the area. Wind gusts to 67 mph were recorded atop Squaw Mountain near Idaho Springs. West winds gusted to 36 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 26th. The strong winds produced some blowing snow…reducing the visibility to less than one mile at times.
In 1995…snowfall totaled 3.7 inches at the former Stapleton International Airport site. The foothills west of Denver received 4 to 7 inches of snow. North-northeast winds gusted to 34 mph at Denver International Airport on the 26th.
In 1965…strong winds buffeted Boulder…causing 11 thousand dollars in damage. Wind gusts to 75 mph were recorded downtown. West winds gusted to 38 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1994…winds gusted to 87 mph atop Squaw Mountain…5 miles south of Idaho Springs…and to 84 mph on Fritz Peak near Rollinsville in the foothills southwest of Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 40 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 2017…The maximum temperature for Denver reached 81 degrees which was 34 degrees above the normal high of 47 degrees. This difference between the actual high and the normal high was the second largest ever recorded for Denver. The only larger difference occurred on Dec 5…1939 when Denver was 35 degrees above normal. It also established a new record for the latest 80 degree day for the calendar year in Denver… breaking the previous date by 11 days.
In 1884…a windstorm during the afternoon produced northwest sustained winds to 46 mph. Two wooden slats were blown out of the weather instrument shelter…and nearly all of the slats on the north and west sides were loosened.
In 1898…northwest winds were sustained to 50 mph with gusts as high as 80 mph.
In 1902…northwest winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 48 mph. The strong apparent Bora winds warmed the temperature to a high of only 40 degrees.
In 1904…northwest winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 58 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees.
In 1927…strong west winds occurred in Boulder…causing widespread minor damage. A wind gust to 65 mph was recorded at Valmont east of Boulder. The west winds possibly produced a cyclonic twist.
In 1928…heavy snowfall totaled 7.0 inches over downtown Denver.
In 1957…a vigorous cold front produced north-northeast wind gusts to 54 mph at Stapleton Airport. Light snow following the front totaled only 0.2 inch.
In 1970…strong Chinook winds reached 77 mph in downtown Boulder.
In 1978…wind gusts 60 to 90 mph were reported in and near the foothills.
In 1984…high winds of 60 to 80 mph occurred along the Front Range eastern foothills.
In Boulder…the high winds blew the roof off a service station. Several trees were felled… Damaging some cars. An elderly woman was injured when she was knocked down by a wind gust and blown 20 feet into some bushes. Northwest winds gusted to 36 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1994…winds gusted to 72 mph in Boulder. No damage was reported. Northwest winds gusted to 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1908…heavy snowfall overnight and for most of the day on the 29th totaled 12.5 inches. Precipitation was 1.09 inches. Northwest winds were sustained to 26 mph on the 29th.
In 1928…a major storm dumped 15.5 inches of snowfall on downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 18 mph with gusts to 19 mph on the 28th.
In 1992…an upper level storm system moved across metro Denver…but left only a dusting of snow. Snowfall totaled only 1.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 25 mph. Other snow amounts included: 8 inches at Conifer…6 inches at Lake Eldora…3 inches at Rollinsville and in southeast Denver.
In 1997…a storm system tracking across northern New Mexico produced strong north to northeast upslope flow against the eastern slopes of the Front Range and Palmer Ridge. Snowfall totals in Jefferson County included: 14 inches near Deckers; 12 inches at Castle Rock and Sedalia; 10 inches near Conifer…11 miles southwest of Morrison…and at Buffalo Creek. Elsewhere…snow accumulations were less. Snowfall totaled only 0.7 inch at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport on the 27th and 28th.
In 2004…heavy snow fell in the foothills and across metro Denver. In the foothills…snowfall totals included: 13 inches at Roxborough State Park and Eldorado Springs… 11.5 inches near Conifer…11.0 inches near Nederland…and 10 inches near Indian Hills. Across metro Denver snowfall totaled 14 inches near Sedalia…9 inches near Louisville… 8 inches at Ralston Reservoir…and 5.1 inches in the Stapleton area of Denver. Northeast winds gusted to 28 mph at Denver International Airport on the 28th.
In 2006…a slow moving storm system brought heavy snow to the mountains and to the eastern foothills where snowfall ranged from 8 to 18 inches. Some of the more impressive snow totals included: 18 inches at Genesee…17.5 inches near Boulder…17 inches at Aspen Springs…16.5 inches 10 miles northwest of Golden…15 inches at Eldorado Springs… 14.5 inches in Idaho Springs and near Jamestown…12 inches in grant and near Indian Hills…11.5 inches near Blackhawk… 11 inches at Gross Reservoir and Eldora…and 10.5 inches in Conifer. Across metro Denver…storm total snowfall generally ranged from 5 to 9 inches with the heaviest amounts near the foothills in Boulder and Jefferson counties. The most impressive totals included: 15.5 inches at Ken Caryl…12 inches in Boulder…7.5 inches near Morrison…and 7 inches near both Chatfield and Ralston reservoirs. Snowfall totaled only 4.2 inches in the Denver Stapleton area. Northeast winds gusted to 31 mph at Denver International Airport on the 28th.
In 1991…a winter storm dumped heavy snow in the foothills and near the palmer divide with 10 inches recorded at Conifer and Golden Gate Canyon…12 inches in Morrison… 6 inches at Castle Rock and Parker. Only 3.4 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusting to 35 mph on the 29th…produced some blowing snow. Some light freezing drizzle also fell on the 28th and 29th.
In 1877…the all-time lowest recorded minimum temperature in the month of November…18 degrees below zero…occurred. The high temperature for the day was 16 degrees.
In 1899…northwest winds were sustained to 51 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a maximum of 74 degrees…a record high for the date and the warmest of the month that year. The minimum temperature was only 39 degrees.
In 1927…post-frontal rain changed to snow and totaled 5.8 inches over downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 22 mph.
In 1977…85 mph winds were reported at Wondervu in the foothills southwest of Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 39 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1980 strong Chinook winds reached 85 mph in Boulder… Blowing traffic signals and street lights down. Some windows were shattered by the wind. West winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1994…high winds blew across the Front Range eastern foothills. Wind gusts to 92 mph occurred atop Squaw Mountain…5 miles south of Idaho Springs…and to 82 mph on Fritz Peak near Rollinsville in the foothills southwest of Boulder. A wind gust to 75 mph was recorded at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. Northwest winds gusted to only 35 mph at Stapleton International Airport. No damage was reported. 29-30 in 2008…a storm system produced locally heavy bands of snow across Douglas…Elbert and eastern Jefferson counties. Northerly winds gusting to 50 mph caused snow drifts to pile up to 2 feet in depth. Storm totals included: 12 inches just southwest of Kassler…11.5 inches…6.5 miles southwest of Castle Rock; 11 inches…8.4 miles southeast of Aurora and 9 miles west of Littleton; 10 inches at Louviers… 8 inches…2 miles west-southwest of Highlands Ranch and 5 miles south-southeast of Sedalia…and 7.5 inches…14 miles west-southwest of Agate and at Castle Pines. At Denver International Airport…2 inches of snow was observed. North winds gusted to 46 mph on the 30th.
In 1899…west winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts as high as 48 mph.
In 1903…west winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 54 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 57 degrees.
In 1981…strong winds blasted the foothills. In Wondervu… Winds were clocked to 81 mph with many other locations in the foothills reporting over 60 mph. Northwest winds gusted to 28 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1986…the worst snow storm of the season dumped from 5.0 inches of snow at Stapleton International Airport to 14 inches over the higher southwestern suburbs. On the Sunday after Thanksgiving…one of the busiest travel days of the year at Stapleton International Airport…two of the four runways were closed and flights were delayed up to four hours. Near-blizzard conditions prevailed on the plains east of Denver…closing both I-70 and I-76 for a time. North wind gusts to 36 mph were recorded at Stapleton International Airport.
In 2000…strong winds raked metro Denver. In Thornton…a construction worker was critically injured when the scaffolding on which he was standing collapsed…throwing him 25 feet to the ground. West winds gusted to 54 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1929…heavy snow blanketed the city. Snowfall totaled 9.8 inches downtown. North winds were sustained to 32 mph with gusts to 37 mph on the 30th.
In 1970…high winds blasted Boulder and the eastern plains. In Boulder…a wind gust to 112 mph was recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research with a gust to 96 mph at the National Bureau of Standards. In downtown Boulder…wind gusts reached 76 mph. At Stapleton International Airport…winds gusted to 47 mph. The high winds caused widespread light to moderate property damage across most of metro Denver. Roofs…signs…trees…power lines…and other property were damaged. Blowing dust reduced visibility to near zero over most of eastern Colorado. Several mobile homes…campers…and semi-trailers were blown off the highways north of Denver.
In 1985…an intrusion of cold arctic air into metro Denver resulted in setting 3 temperature records. The temperature climbed to only 17 degrees on the 30th…setting a record low maximum for the date. On the 1st…the temperature plunged to 6 degrees below zero…setting a record low for the date… And warmed to only 7 degrees…setting a record low maximum for the date.
In 1975…very strong Chinook winds up to 100 mph caused damage to homes…aircraft…aircraft hangars…mobile homes… Cars…and power lines along the eastern foothills. Strong northwest winds gusted to 39 mph at Stapleton International Airport on both the 30th and the 1st.
In 1899…northwest Chinook winds were sustained to 47 mph with gusts to 60 mph. The strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 61 degrees…the warmest of the month. The low temperature dipped to only 39 degrees.
In 1972…strong Chinook winds gusted in excess of 65 mph in Boulder. There were no reports of damage. Northwest winds gusted to 38 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1992…strong winds continued through the early morning hours. Wind gusts to over 70 mph were measured at reporting sites in the foothills west of Denver. In west Boulder…wind gusts reached 71 mph with 77 mph measured at Rollinsville. At Stapleton International Airport northwest winds gusted to 39 mph. The walker ranch…an historic site west of Boulder…burned down overnight during the high wind event. Although the winds did not cause the fire…they did hamper efforts to extinguish the blaze.
In 1996…high winds howled in and near the Front Range foothills. Winds gusted to 105 mph at Wondervu southwest of Boulder and to 70 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. West winds gusted to only 24 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1933…apparent post-frontal heavy snowfall totaled 8.0 inches across downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 17 mph with an extreme velocity to 18 mph on the 1st.
In 1981 strong winds gusted to over 70 mph along the foothills. A peak gust to 100 mph was recorded at Wondervu. A gust to 94 mph was recorded just west of Boulder. Roofs on houses were damaged in the Evergreen area…and some mobile homes also were damaged. At Stapleton International Airport…northwest winds gusted 44 mph on the 1st and 37 mph on the 2nd.
In 1913…the 1st marked the start of the heaviest 5-day total snowfall in the city’s history. During this period snowfall totaled 45.7 inches. Starting on the 1st…snow fell intermittently for 3 days and accumulated a little over 8 inches. On the 4th and 5th…an additional 37.4 inches of snow fell. At Georgetown in the foothills west of Denver even more snow fell…86 inches over the 5 days with the most…63 inches…on the 4th. In Colorado…snowfall was heavy along the eastern slopes of the mountains from the Palmer Divide north. High winds during the storm caused heavy drifting…which blocked all transportation. Snow cover of an inch or more from the storm persisted for 60 consecutive days from the 1st through January 29…1914. Additional snowfall in December and January prolonged the number of days. This is the third longest period of snow cover on record in the city.
In 1893…northwest winds were sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 46 mph. Snowfall was only 1.4 inches in the city.
In 1895…0.01 inch of melted snow from 0.7 inch of snowfall was the only measurable precipitation of the month in downtown Denver…ranking the month the 3rd driest December on record.
In 1899…post-frontal northeast winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 59 mph caused the temperature to plunge from a high of 55 degrees to a low of 15 degrees. Snowfall was only 1.0 inch.
In 1902…apparent post-frontal northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 53 mph. A trace of snow fell.
In 1905…only a trace of snow fell in downtown Denver. This was the only snow and precipitation for the month… Ranking the month the second driest and the second least snowiest December on record.
In 1921…snowfall was 5.5 inches in downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 24 mph with an extreme velocity of 25 mph.
In 1951…a vigorous pacific cold front produced a northwest wind gust to 51 mph at Stapleton Airport where brief blowing dust was observed.
In 1957…a strong pacific cold front produced northwest wind gusts to 54 mph at Stapleton Airport where the surface visibility was briefly reduced to 1 1/2 miles in blowing dust.
In 1977…high winds in Boulder lifted a warehouse from its foundation and ripped it apart. Wind gusts from 60 to 103 mph toppled and injured a man while walking. Winds were clocked to 104 mph at Nederland…100 mph at Morrison…and 62 mph at Rocky Flats. Northwest winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…for the second day in a row high winds ripped the Front Range foothills. Winds gusted to 81 mph in Golden Gate Canyon. West-northwest winds gusted to 37 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2013…high winds developed ahead of an approaching storm system. The strong winds downed several trees around Evergreen. Peak wind gusts included: 79 mph…4 miles west-southwest of Eldorado Springs; 78 mph…3 miles south of Evergreen; 75 mph and the NCAR Mesa Lab; and 69 mph in Longmont.
In 1955…snowfall totaled only 2.9 inches at Stapleton Airport. This was the only measurable snowfall of the month.
In 1973…post-frontal heavy snowfall totaled 7.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusting to 37 mph caused some blowing snow.
In 1990…strong downslope winds raked the eastern foothills and most of metro Denver. A wind gust to 87 mph was recorded at Rollinsville with wind gusts to 58 mph in Arvada and 55 mph in Lakewood. West winds gusted to 48 mph at Stapleton International Airport on the 2nd.
In 1997…heavy snow fell in the foothills. Conifer received 10 inches of new snow. Snowfall totaled only 2.4 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport on the 1st…2nd…and 3rd. North winds gusted to 24 mph at Denver International Airport on the 2nd.
In 1909…post-frontal snowfall totaled 6.1 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow…5.9 inches…fell between 6:00 pm on the 2nd and 6:00 pm on the 3rd. North winds were sustained to 18 mph on both the 2nd and 3rd.
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.
With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, travelers cast a wary eye on Denver’s weather and in our look back at this week in Denver weather history we see they have had cause for concern in the past. Snowstorms and wind have caused their share of problems. Also notable, it was more than 140 years ago that Denver’s first official weather observation occurred.
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From the National Weather Service:
In 1975…snowfall totaled only 5.5 inches and north winds gusted to 35 mph causing some blowing snow at Stapleton International Airport…while a major blizzard struck southeastern Colorado.
In 1985…4 to 7 inches of snow fell across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 4.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 23 mph.
In 1991…another strong winter storm produced heavy snow over metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 9.5 inches at Stapleton International Airport with 9 inches at Parker… And 8 inches in southeast Denver…Morrison…and Wheat Ridge. This second storm brought the 5 day (15th-19th) snowfall total at Stapleton International Airport to 21.1 inches. The greatest depth of snow on the ground was 13 inches on the morning of the 19th. The adverse effects of the two storms were diminished by the lack of significant winds.
In 1930…a major storm dumped a total of 13.6 inches of snowfall over downtown Denver. Most of the snow…9.4 inches…fell on the 19th when north winds were sustained to 23 mph. This was the only measurable snow of the month. Temperatures hovered in the 20’s and lower 30’s.
In 1956…an intense winter storm dumped 12.8 inches of snowfall on metro Denver. Strong north-northeast winds gusting to 33 mph at Stapleton Airport frequently reduced the visibility to 1/2 mile in snow and blowing snow on the 19th. Most of the snowfall…10.7 inches…occurred on the 19th.
In 1931…the first measurable snow of the season totaled only 1.0 inch in the city.
In 1977…near-blizzard conditions caused some traffic accident injuries across metro Denver. Only 1.3 inches of snow fell at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 28 mph.
In 1979…a heavy snowstorm buried most of Colorado under at least a foot of snow. Snowfall at Stapleton International Airport totaled 17.7 inches…the greatest snow depth since 1946. Winds to 60 mph produced 5-foot drifts paralyzing the city as temperatures hovered in the 20’s. While small airports closed…Stapleton remained open…but with long delays that snarled thanksgiving holiday traffic. Schools and businesses closed and postal deliveries were delayed. Almost all major highways leading out of Denver were closed to traffic for periods of time on the 20th and 21st. Most of the snow…13.5 inches…fell on the 20th. At Stapleton International Airport…north winds gusted to 35 mph on the 20th and to 38 mph on the 21st.
In 1871…the first official weather observation in Denver… Was taken by Henry Fenton…observer sergeant of the united states army signal service at 5:43 am. The office was located on the 2nd floor of a building at the corner of Larimer and g streets…now 16th street. The daily weather journal hand written entry for the day follows: “Snow fell heavily during past night. At 5:43 am it was snowing light and continued until 8 am. Wind during snow storm gentle and a little west of south…and continued there during the remainder of the day. Sky clear after 8 am. Very cold weather prevailed all day and night. Thermometer at 9:43 pm 14 degrees. Rain gauge and self-registering thermometer not in position owing to severe storm last week. Barometer falling during the morning and rising rapidly at night.”
In 1894…northwest Chinook winds sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 45 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees in the city.
In 1909…steady and very strong winds in Boulder caused 3 thousand dollars in damage.
In 1915…post-frontal northeast winds sustained to 40 mph with gusts as high as 42 mph produced only a trace of snow. It was windy most of the day.
In 1923…west winds were sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 44 mph before daybreak. The strong winds persisted in the city for only about 3 hours.
In 1993…a wind gust to 72 mph was recorded at Table Mesa in southwest Boulder.
Wind and snow are two hallmarks of Denver’s November weather and we see an abundance of those events in our look back at this week in Denver weather history. Damaging wind makes numerous appearances as does wintry weather.
From the National Weather Service:
In 2014…an Arctic cold front on the 10th…associated with a strong storm system over the northern Rockies blasted into northeast Colorado. The temperature in Denver plummeted from the high of 64 degrees at 4:37 pm to 34 degrees by 5:53 pm. The temperatures continued to fall and dropped into the teens by early evening. The Arctic airmass remained entrenched over the region through the morning of the 14th…with the high temperatures failing to reach the teens from the 11th through the 13th. This was the first time since records have been taken in Denver…dating back to 1872…that there were three consecutive days with the maximum temperatures remained below 20 degrees in the month of November. In addition to the frigid temperatures…0.1 inch of snowfall was observed on 11th at Denver International Airport…which marked the first measureable snowfall for the season. An additional 2.2 inches of snowfall was measured on the 12th. Several temperature records were broken. A record low max of 16 degrees on the 11th broke the previous record of 19 set back in 1916. A record low max of 6 degrees on the 12th broke the previous record of 9 degrees…also set in 1916. The record low of -13 on the 12th…shattered the previous record of -4 degrees set back in 1872. Even more impressive…the record low of -14 degrees on the 13th broke the previous record of -3 degrees set back in 1916. The sudden drop in temperatures on the 10th…followed by several days of sub-freezing temperatures chilled trees to the core. The record drop in temperatures…preceded by mild fall temperatures…damaged or killed scores of trees across the I-25 Corridor and northeast plains. At the time…the trees were not finished with the hardening process that enables them to withstand winter weather. Many were instantly flash-frozen…and some would not show signs of damage until spring of 2015. Of the 2.2 million trees in the city of Denver alone…tens of thousands were killed from the November frost. Denver estimated a citywide loss of more than 10 million dollars.
In 1922…a major storm dumped 14.1 inches of snowfall over downtown Denver. The most snow on the ground was 10.5 inches at 6:00 pm on the 12th. North winds were sustained to 21 mph on the 11th. Temperatures were generally in the teens and 20’s.
In 1964…strong winds in Boulder caused power outages and minor damage. Winds gusted to 42 mph in downtown Boulder. At Stapleton International Airport west winds gusted to 36 mph on the 11th and 35 mph on the 12th.
In 1976…snow and freezing drizzle caused icing on bridges… Overpasses and some main roads. The elevated portion of I-70 was closed for a time during the afternoon of the 11th. Snowfall totaled only 0.8 inch at Stapleton International Airport…where northeast winds gusted to 20 mph on the 11th.
In 1989…the temperature climbed to a maximum of 76 degrees on both days…setting new record highs for each day.
In 1995…hurricane force downslope winds whipped across the Front Range foothills overnight. The National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder registered a peak wind gust to 124 mph with several more wind gusts over 100 mph. Utility poles and power lines were downed…leaving several hundred homes in Boulder without power. Windows were blown out of cars in Boulder. Other reports of strong wind gusts included: 108 mph atop Squaw Mountain west of Denver…104 mph at Table Mesa in Boulder…99 mph at Golden Gate Canyon… 85 mph at the Rocky Flats environmental technology site… 69 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield…and 62 mph in Lakewood. West-northwest wind gusts to 40 mph were recorded at Denver International Airport on the 12th.
In 2018…a period of moderate to heavy upslope snowfall to occurred in the Front Range Mountains and Foothills…and urban corridor mainly west of I-25. The foothills of Boulder and Jefferson counties received the greatest snowfall. Storm totals included: 14 inches…4 miles west of Boulder… Genesee and near Tiny Town; 13 inches…2 miles southwest of Boulder; 12.5 inches…4 miles northeast of Nederland; 12 inches near Roxborough State Park and Schaffer`s Crossing; 11.5 inches near Jamestown; 11 inches near Pinecliffe; 10.3 inches at the National Weather Service in Boulder; 10 inches near Conifer and near Niwot; 9 inches…4 miles east of Gold Hill; 8.5 inches near Greenland; 8 inches near Monument and Wheat Ridge; 7.5 inches near Louisville; with 5 to 7 inches in Arvada…Castle Rock…Erie…Lafayette…Longmont…Ken Caryl… and Rocky Flats. At Denver International Airport…2.6 inches of snowfall was observed.
In 1970…heavy snowfall totaled 7.2 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 22 mph on the 12th and 14th. Most of the snow… 4.2 inches…fell on the 12th.
In 1894…northeast winds were sustained to 42 mph with gusts to 48 mph behind an apparent dry cold front.
In 1903…west winds sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 45 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 57 degrees. A trace of snow was observed.
In 1922…heavy snowfall of 8.5 inches was measured over downtown Denver.
In 1974…strong winds gusting to over 80 mph caused local damage to houses and property along the foothills from Denver north. Automobiles…homes…and power lines suffered damage in Boulder. West winds gusted to 41 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1961…heavy snowfall totaled 5.6 inches at Stapleton Airport. East-northeast winds gusted to only 20 mph.
In 2011…hurricane force winds…up to 115 mph… downed trees in and power lines across the Front Range Mountains and Foothills. Scattered outages were reported in Gilpin County. In Boulder…a woman received minor injuries when she was struck in the head by a falling tree limb. Three women near Georgetown received minor injuries when they were pelted by glass shards after a barrage of wind driven rocks and dirt shattered their windshield. Peak wind gusts included: 109 mph…6 miles north-northwest of Berthoud Pass; 101 mph atop Kenosha Pass…100 mph… 2 miles south-southwest of Loveland Pass; 99 mph…7 miles west-northwest of Berthoud; 92 mph at Blackhawk; 90 mph…3 miles south-southwest of Boulder; 87 mph…2 miles west-northwest of Aspen Springs and at Pickle Gulch; 84 mph at Loveland Pass and Lyons; 82 mph at the National Wind Technology Center; 80 mph at Dumont and 78 mph near Rollinsville and Ward. At Denver International Airport…west winds gusted to 52 mph on the 12th.
In 1909…light snowfall totaled 6.7 inches in downtown Denver over the 4 days. This was the first measurable snowfall of the season. Northeast winds were sustained to 15 mph on the 12th.
In 1951…northwest wind gusts to 50 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport.
In 1983…winds gusted to around 60 mph in and near the foothills. There were scattered power outages and a few broken windows across metro Denver. The strong winds did 10 thousand dollars in damage to awnings at the Brown Palace Hotel in downtown Denver. West winds gusted to 46 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1925…heavy post-frontal snowfall totaled 6.4 inches overnight in downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 27 mph with gusts to 29 mph on the 13th.
In 1974…northwest winds gusted to 52 mph at Stapleton International Airport…warming the temperature to 60 degrees shortly after midnight on the 13th. A cold front cooled temperatures into the 20’s by late morning and produced snowfall of 3.7 inches. The low temperature dipped to 14 degrees on the 14th.
In 1993…an upper level low pressure system combined with a weak but moist upslope flow to produce heavy snow across metro Denver. Snowfall amounts averaged 6 to 8 inches with up to 16 inches in the foothills at the Eldora Ski Area. Snowfall totaled 6.0 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to only 20 mph on the 14th. Most of the snow fell on the 14th.
In 1994…heavy snow developed rapidly along the Front Range urban corridor with the heaviest snow over northwest metro Denver. Sixteen to 18 inches of snow fell in Boulder… Lafayette…and Louisville. This was the second heavy snowfall over northwest metro Denver in 10 days. Eleven to 14 inches of snow were measured from Longmont southward into Aurora. Snowfall totaled 12.1 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to 29 mph on the 13th. Most of the snow…9.0 inches…fell on the 14th.
In 1997…heavy snow fell overnight in portions of Jefferson and Boulder counties. About 5.5 inches of snow were reported in Boulder…while 4 inches were measured 12 miles southwest of Morrison and 6 miles southwest of Golden. Snowfall totaled only 1.8 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Northeast winds gusted to 26 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1874…west winds blew at gale speeds from midnight until mid afternoon when the winds abated. The maximum sustained velocity was 48 mph.
In 1928…strong winds caused 3 hundred to 5 hundred dollars damage in Boulder. Wind gusts to 70 mph were recorded at Valmont just east of Boulder.
In 2006…an upper level jet stream combined with a high surface pressure gradient behind a cold front to produce strong winds across metro Denver. A wind gust to 66 mph was recorded in Longmont. North winds were sustained to 38 mph with gusts to 52 mph at Denver International Airport where winds were strong and gusty most of the day.
In 2020…a peak wind gust to 60 mph was observed from the northwest at Denver International Airport…with a peak gust to 55 mph at Centennial Airport.
In 1917…overnight rainfall was 0.03 inch. This was the only measurable precipitation of the month…making it the 5th driest November on record.
In 1985…3 to 6 inches of snow fell across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 3.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to only 13 mph.
In 2005…a winter storm that brought heavy snow to the mountains also spread heavy snow into the foothills to the west of Denver. Snowfall totals included: 14 inches at Aspen Springs…13 inches near Pinecliffe…and 12 inches near Nederland. Interstate 70 along with U.S. Highway 40 had to be closed near Idaho Springs due to snow…poor visibility in blowing snow…numerous accidents…and an increased avalanche danger. High winds were recorded in the foothills on the 14th. Winds gusted to 89 mph at Georgetown and to 91 mph on Sugarloaf Mountain west of Boulder. Strong microburst winds associated with a dissipating rain shower gusted to 61 mph at Denver International Airport on the 14th.
Our look back at this week in Denver weather history is dominated with two types of events: snow and wind. November is our second snowiest month and we see many significant snowfall events in the past. Wind is a fact of life on the plains and in Denver and damaging events have occurred with relatively frequency as we can see below.
From the National Weather Service:
In 1946…a major snow storm dumped 30.4 inches of heavy snowfall downtown and 31.0 inches at Stapleton Airport. The winter storm closed schools and disrupted all forms of transportation in the city. The greatest depth of snow on the ground was 28 inches at the airport. The duration of the snowfall…from 4:22 am on the 2nd to 3:08 am on the 5th… A total of 70 hours and 46 minutes…is the second longest period of continuous precipitation on record and the second heaviest snowfall of record at the time in Denver. The 17.7 inches of snowfall on the 2nd and 3rd was the greatest 24- hour snowfall ever recorded during the month of November. Buses and street cars had a difficult time…and many cars were abandoned along roadsides and streets for several days. Secondary roads in rural areas were blocked for 2 to 3 weeks. Several buildings in the city collapsed or were damaged from the weight of the heavy snow. Football games were canceled. Livestock losses were high over eastern Colorado. The precipitation from this storm alone exceeded the greatest amount ever recorded in Denver during the entire month of November previously. The precipitation recorded downtown was 2.03 inches…and the previous record for the entire month of November was 1.95 inches in 1922. North winds were sustained to 26 mph on the 2nd.
In 1933…the first measurable snow of the season totaled only 2.5 inches. This was the only measurable snow of the month. Northwest winds were sustained to 27 mph on the 4th.
In 1951…heavy snowfall of 5.7 inches was measured at Stapleton Airport where northwest winds gusted to 32 mph.
In 1896…west Chinook winds sustained to 44 mph with gusts to 46 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 56 degrees in the city.
In 1919…a rare November thunderstorm produced a mixture of rain and snow during the evening. Precipitation totaled only 0.14 inch with only a trace of snow. Northeast winds were sustained to 39 mph with gusts to 44 mph.
In 1948…a west-northwest wind gust to 50 mph was recorded at Stapleton Airport.
In 1994…winds gusted to 76 mph on the summit of Squaw Mountain…5 miles south of Idaho Springs.
In 2000…snow fell in the foothills west of Denver and across the southern suburbs. Snow totals included 6 inches near Evergreen…11 miles southwest of Morrison… And 7 miles south of Tiny Town and 5 inches in Aurora and Parker. Snowfall totaled 5.5 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. Northeast winds gusted to 26 mph at Denver International Airport where the visibility was reduced to 1/4 mile in heavy snow at times.
In 1938…heavy snowfall totaled 7.5 inches over downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 16 mph with gusts to 19 mph on the 5th.
In 1918…rain was mixed with and changed to snow…which became heavy and totaled 8.1 inches in downtown Denver. North winds were sustained to 21 mph with gusts to 23 mph.
In 1962…west winds gusted to 55 mph…briefly reducing the visibility to 1 1/2 miles in blowing dust at Stapleton Airport. The strong winds blew all day.
In 1989…high winds to 62 mph were recorded in Boulder. Northwest winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1991…strong westerly Chinook winds blew into metro Denver with gusts to 88 mph recorded at Rollinsville and to 51 mph in Boulder. Later…northeast winds with gusts of 30 to 40 mph were common across all of metro Denver behind a cold front…which produced only 0.2 inch of snowfall at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1958…a strong cold front produced northeast wind gusts to 52 mph at Stapleton Airport where some blowing dust was observed.
In 1980…Chinook winds at sustained speeds of 40 mph were recorded with a peak gust to 71 mph measured at Wondervu southwest of Boulder. West winds gusted to 25 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1989…strong winds buffeted many foothills areas. Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were recorded in Boulder and Longmont. Northwest winds gusted to 43 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…wind gusts to 75 mph were recorded at Golden Gate Canyon and at the Rocky Flats Environmental Test Facility northwest of Denver. Northwest winds gusted to 40 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1998…upslope conditions…coupled with a moist and unstable air mass…allowed heavy snow to develop in the foothills west of Denver. Snowfall generally ranged from 4 to 6 inches…but 7 inches were measured 4 miles south of Evergreen. Only 1.2 inches of snow fell at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport. This was the first measurable snow of the season.
In 1969…wind gusts to 48 mph in downtown Boulder caused minor damage.
In 1896…southwest Chinook winds sustained to 42 mph with gusts as high as 46 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 53 degrees.
In 1977 near-blizzard conditions in blowing snow caused the closure of I-70 to the west of Denver in clear creek canyon and east of Denver to Limon. Northeast wind gusts to 46 mph were recorded at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled only 1.1 inches.
In 1984…a rare November thunderstorm produced west winds gusting to 31 mph…but only 0.04 inch of rain at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996…high winds gusting from 80 to 100 mph were recorded at Wondervu in the foothills southwest of Boulder. West northwest winds gusted to 32 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2006…the temperature in Denver climbed to a high of 80 degrees. This was the first time the temperature had ever exceeded the 70’s in November since records began in 1872. This new all-time record maximum temperature for the month of November was also a new daily record and the highest temperature ever recorded so late in the season.
The month of October was one without a lot of drama for Thornton. For the majority of it, we saw temperatures a good bit above normal and little precipitation. It was only in the last week of the month that we saw a taste of the cold and snow to come.
The first three weeks of the month were notable for the lack of precipitation. We saw streaks of eight days and 11 days without anything falling into the rain bucket. Similarly, with only a few days as exceptions, temperatures rain well above normal.
On the 26th, the weather pattern began to change and temperatures chilled out. This was followed by our first snowfall of the season, 4.9 inches on the 29th.
Overall, Thornton saw an average temperature for October 2023 of 51.2 degrees. This was a good bit above our 17-year running average of 49.6 degrees for the month. Temperatures ranged from a high of 86.8 degrees on the 20th down to a low of 14.4 degrees on the 30th.
For Denver, as measured at Denver International Airport, the month was similarly warm. The Mile High City saw an average temperature of 52.5 degrees, 1.4 degrees above the long term October average.
Precipitation was lacking for the month in both locations. Thornton managed a relatively meager 0.62 inches in the rain bucket with the majority of that coming with the end of month snowfall. Denver fared worse with 0.47 inches being collected there.
In terms of snowfall, there was only one event for the month. Thornton received 4.9 inches. Denver bested us with 7.5 inches as the storm system had bigger effects to the east and south of us. Thornton’s 17-year running average for October snowfall is 4.4 inches while Denver’s long term average is 3.9 inches.
The weather during the month of November in Denver metro area can offer just about anything. While it is normally a quiet month, it can be prone to extremes.
November has historically been one of Denver’s snowiest months and major snowstorms are not entirely uncommon. However conditions can also be quite dry.
Temperatures during the month continue to cool as we get closer to winter and by the end of the month the low temperatures routinely dip to 20 degrees or below. At times it can in fact bring conditions more like what we see in January.
The biannual ritual of changing our clocks to adjust for Daylight Saving Time occurs this weekend, providing yet another signal of the changing of seasons. The United States will ‘fall back’ one hour at 2:00am Sunday morning as we return to Standard Time.
The ritual of changing our clocks twice a year can be met with some resistance as some people struggle to adjust their body’s internal clock. Others actually like the return to standard time as they get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep.
The time change definitely has big effects on the dawning of daylight and how early it gets dark in the evening.
Sunrise on Saturday occurs at 7:31am but on Sunday it will be at 6:32am. Similarly, sunset will occur at 5:54pm on Saturday but on Sunday the sun will disappear over the horizon at 4:53pm.
For many this means that when they get home from work it will now be dark and outdoor activities will be significantly curtailed as a result.
Arizona and Hawaii are the only states that do not observe Daylight Saving Time and remain on Standard Time year round. The U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands also do not observe the event.
It won’t be all that long though before Daylight Saving Time returns. On March 10, 2024 we will ‘spring forward.’
Daylight Saving Time Schedule
The mandated beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time has changed in the United States over the years.
The most recent schedule was set by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and took effect in 2007. We now ‘spring forward’ to begin Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday in March and ‘fall back’ with the return to Standard Time on the first Sunday in November.
Daylight Savings Time Dates
DST Begins 2 a.m.
(Second Sunday in March)
DST Ends 2 a.m.
(First Sunday in November)
12 March 2023
5 November 2023
10 March 2024
3 November 2024
9 March 2025
2 November 2025
8 March 2026
1 November 2026
14 March 2027
7 November 2027
12 March 2028
5 November 2028
11 March 2029
4 November 2029
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