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 140 years ago that Denver’s first official weather observation occurred.
From the National Weather Service:
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 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.
In 1994…winds gusted to 77 mph atop Squaw Mountain west of Denver. West winds gusted to 40 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1898…snowfall totaled 4.0 inches in downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 48 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph behind an apparent cold front on the 20th… When temperatures plunged from a high of 66 degrees to a low of 9 degrees. On the 21st the high was only 24 degrees and the low was 2 degrees.
In 1970…a wind gust to 94 mph was recorded at gold hill in the foothills west of Boulder. Strong winds also swept across metro Denver. Wind gusts reached 59 mph in downtown Boulder…while at Stapleton International Airport west- northwest winds gusted to 43 mph on the 21st. Damage was minor.
In 1992…a large Canadian air mass moved into the state at the same time an upper level storm system approached from the west. The combination of cold air at the surface and very moist air aloft produced heavy snow across the entire state. Snowfall totaled 6.3 inches at Stapleton International Airport…where north winds gusted to 23 mph on the 20th. Snow was heavier in the foothills…with 14 inches at Wondervu…13 inches at Aspen Springs…Conifer… Boulder…and Gross Reservoir…8 inches at Rollinsville… And 10 inches at Golden Gate Canyon and Morrison.
In 2007…a storm system brought moderate to heavy snowfall to portions of the urban corridor. Storm totals included: 7 inches…3 miles south-southeast of Fort Collins…with 6 inches in Boulder and at Horsetooth Inlet Bay. Elsewhere… Storm totals ranged from 2 to 5 inches. Snowfall totaled 2.0 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.
In 1891…northwest winds were sustained to 50 mph with gusts to 60 mph.
In 1899…a trace of snow fell in the city. This…together with a trace of precipitation on the 16th and 23rd…was the only precipitation of the month…making the month the driest on record. The record was equaled in November of 1901 and 1949. This trace of snow along with a trace of snow on the 23rd was the only snow of the month…ranking the month the 2nd least snowiest on record. This record was equaled in November of 1884…1901…1905…1917…and 1939.
In 1900…west winds were sustained to 46 mph with gusts to 54 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 64 degrees.
In 1934…the latest date for the first measurable snow of the season occurred. This was not the first snow of the season… Because traces of snow had fallen earlier in September. Snowfall totaled only 1.0 inch over downtown Denver.
In 1962…strong west-northwest Chinook winds gusted to 53 mph at Stapleton Airport.
In 1998…an intense mountain wave allowed for high winds to develop in the foothills of Boulder County. Wind gusts as high as 77 mph were measured 3 miles east- northeast of Nederland.
In 1905…a trace of snow fell on both days in downtown Denver. This was the only snow of the month…ranking the month along with other Novembers…the 2nd least snowiest on record.
In 1999…the first significant snowfall of the season struck metro Denver. Snowfall totals included: 16 inches near Bailey; 13 inches near Evergreen; 12 inches at north turkey creek…Genesee…near Morrison…and near Sedalia; 11 inches near Conifer and in Evergreen; 10 inches in Louisville; 9 inches in Brighton…Broomfield…and Denver; and 8 inches at Arvada…Castle Rock…and Eldorado Springs. Snowfall totaled 8.4 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.
In 2003…heavy snow fell in and near the foothills of Boulder County. Snowfall totaled 10.5 inches in Eldorado Springs. Across the city…snowfall was lighter with 2.8 inches measured at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport on the 22nd. North winds gusted to 32 mph at Denver International Airport on the 22nd.
In 1918…post-frontal snowfall totaled 5.9 inches in downtown Denver. Most of the snow…5.3 inches…fell on the 22nd. North winds were sustained to 20 mph on the 21st.
In 1931…a major storm dumped a total of 13.2 inches of snowfall over downtown Denver. Most of the snow…11.4 inches…fell on the 21st. A very cold air mass settled over the city after the heavy snow on the 21st. After a low temperature of zero…the temperature climbed to a high of only 5 degrees on the 22nd…a record low maximum for the date.
In 1952…snowfall of 6.2 inches was measured at Stapleton Airport where northeast winds gusted to 17 mph on the 21st.
In 1977…101 mph winds were measured in southwest Boulder. The side of a garage was blown down. West winds gusted to only 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1981…high winds occurred in the foothills. A peak gust to 75 mph was reported at Wondervu. West winds gusted to 23 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1988…a wind gust to 88 mph was measured at Rollinsville.
In 1990…strong west to northwest winds…on the coat tails of a mountain snow storm the day before…lashed out at portions of the eastern foothills with 60 to 95 mph wind gusts. The strong winds spread over all of metro Denver. A west wind gust to 49 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1953…strong winds raked Boulder causing 18 thousand dollars in damage. Wind gusts to 80 mph were recorded at Valmont and estimated to 80 mph at the Boulder airport.
In 1899…a trace of snow fell in the city. This…together with a trace of precipitation on the 16th and 21st…was the only precipitation of the month…making the month the driest on record. The record was equaled in November of 1901 and 1949. This trace of snow along with a trace of snow on the 21st was the only snow of the month…ranking the month the 2nd least snowiest on record. This record was equaled in November of 1884…1901…1905…1917…and 1939.
In 1901…northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 53 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 70 degrees.
In 1910…west winds were sustained to 42 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 67 degrees.
In 1959…west-northwest winds gusted to 56 mph…briefly reducing the visibility to 3 miles in blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.
In 1998…winds…estimated as high as 58 mph…caused several wood trusses installed in a police station under construction in Castle Rock to collapse. A construction worker on the roof received minor injuries when he was struck by one of the trusses. Southeast winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 1992…a pre-thanksgiving blizzard belted metro Denver. Gusty north to northeast winds at 30 to 40 mph caused near-whiteout conditions as visibilities were often below 1/4 mile. The strong winds drove snow into drifts of more than 4 feet. Hundreds of holiday travelers were stranded when airlines canceled flights at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall totaled 7.6 inches and north winds gusted to 37 mph. Blizzard conditions began around mid- morning on the 23rd and ended by mid-afternoon…but heavy snow fell through the night. Snowfall totaled: 12 inches at Conifer…Morrison…and wheat ridge; 19 inches at Littleton; 16 inches at Castle Rock; 9 inches in Brighton; 8 inches in Aurora; and 6 inches in Parker.
In 1993…a moist upper level disturbance dumped heavy snow over most of Colorado. Snowfall amounts averaged 5 to 8 inches across metro Denver. Snowfall totaled 4.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northeast winds gusted to only 20 mph on the 23rd. The very cold air mass caused the temperature to dip to a record low of 8 degrees below zero on the 24th. The temperature that day climbed to only 9 degrees…also setting a record low maximum for the date.
In 1915…Chinook winds from the southwest sustained to 40 mph with gusts to 46 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 61 degrees. It was windy most of the day.
In 1949…the low temperature dipped to 56 degrees…the all-time record highest minimum temperature ever recorded during the month of November.
In 1960…violent wind gusts caused some damage in Boulder. West winds gusted to only 22 mph at Stapleton Airport.
In 1980…a snow storm brought 3 to 6 inches of snow across metro Denver. At Stapleton International Airport…only 2.1 inches of snow fell.
In 1989…high winds were recorded in Boulder with a gust to 64 mph. West winds gusted to only 24 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1908…heavy snowfall totaled 7.0 inches over downtown Denver overnight. North winds were sustained to 15 mph.
In 1930 strong winds raked the Front Range eastern foothills. Winds gusted to 40 mph at Valmont just east of Boulder where minor damage occurred.
In 1970…strong Chinook winds warmed Boulder. At the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder…wind gusts reached 97 mph…while in downtown Boulder winds peaked to 69 mph. Some minor damage occurred. Northwest winds gusted to 39 mph at Stapleton International Airport…and the high temperature warmed to 76 degrees on the 25th…setting a new record maximum for the date.
In 1877…northwest winds were sustained to 50 mph.
In 1902…northwest winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to 48 mph. The strong apparent Bora winds warmed the temperature to a high of only 45 degrees.
In 1943…snowfall of 4.0 inches was the only measurable snow of the month. North winds were sustained to 17 mph.
In 1958…strong pre-frontal Chinook winds struck Boulder and the eastern foothills. A wind gust to 100 mph was recorded northwest of Denver. A gust to 88 mph occurred at Rocky Flats south of Boulder. The windstorm caused considerable structural damage to residential sections of north metro Denver.
In 1959…strong winds raked the eastern foothills including Boulder and Eldorado Springs. Wind gusts to 100 mph were estimated at the Matterhorn Restaurant located atop Rocky Flats south of Boulder.
In 1993…a wind gust to 99 mph was recorded atop Squaw Mountain near Idaho Springs.
In 1998…strong winds developed over portions of the Front Range foothills for a brief time following the passage of a weak upper level disturbance. A wind gust to 71 mph was measured atop Blue Mountain near Coal Creek Canyon.
In 1999…strong Chinook winds developed in and near the foothills. Peak wind reports included 100 mph at the Eldora Ski Resort and 77 mph at the National Center for Atmospheric Research mesa lab above Boulder. West winds gusted to 38 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2010…high winds developed in the foothills of Boulder County. A gust to 75 mph occurred 5 miles northwest of Boulder with a gust to 72 mph at the national center for atmospheric research mesa lab above Boulder. West winds gusted to 24 mph at Denver International Airport.
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.