October 17 to October 23: This week in Denver weather history

This Week in Denver Weather History

This year Denver is still waiting for its first snowfall but that certainly has not been the case throughout history.  Many times in our past we have seen not only snow around this time of October but heavy snow as well, oftentimes damaging in nature.


In 1989…an autumn snowstorm hit metro Denver with 2 to 6 inches of snow.  Snowfall totaled 4.4 inches at Stapleton International Airport where the maximum snow depth on the ground was only 3 inches due to melting and north winds gusted to 25 mph on the 15th.  The heavy wet snow caused leafy branches to sag onto power lines…resulting in a number of power outages.  Five thousand homes were blacked out in Boulder on the 16th.  Up to a foot of snow fell in the higher foothills with 19 inches recorded at Echo Lake.


In 1990…strong downslope winds raked the eastern foothills. Wind gusts from 60 to 75 mph were common.  Strong winds in metro Denver resulted in wave damage to a dock used to moor several private sail boats at Cheery Creek Reservoir. Damage was confined to the dock and two anchor cables. A northwest wind gust to 43 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.


In 1878…strong winds reached sustained speeds of 48 mph.

In 1988…a wind gust to 62 mph was recorded in central Boulder.  The strong winds caused a few brief power outages.  An old smoldering brush fire in the foothills west of Boulder was re-ignited by the wind gusts.

In 1994…winds gusted to 85 mph atop Squaw Mountain…5 miles south of Idaho Springs.

In 2006…a potent storm system brought heavy snowfall to the mountains and eastern foothills.  Snowfall totals in the foothills included:  14 inches at Blackhawk…13.5 inches near Idaho Springs…13 inches at cabin creek…12.5 inches at Aspen Springs and Echo Lake…11.5 inches at Georgetown and Rollinsville…10.5 inches near Jamestown…and 10 inches at grant and Lake Eldora.  Lesser snow amounts…from 4 to 9 inches…were recorded elsewhere in the foothills.  Snowfall totaled only 3.5 inches in the Denver Stapleton area.  At Denver International Airport…north winds gusted to 31 mph.

In 2012…A brief but powerful windstorm associated with a fast moving cold front across the Urban Corridor and adjacent plains during in the evening. Peak wind gusts ranging from 58 to 71 mph downed trees and power lines which damaged homes and vehicles. Several temporary structures were also damaged. Approximately fifty thousand were left without power in the Denver…Fort Collins and Greeley areas. Some schools were closed the following day until power could be restored. Around the Denver area…peak wind gusts included: 69 mph in Golden…64 mph at Littleton… 62 mph at Buckley AFB and in Denver…near the intersection of Walnut St. and Interstate 25…and Longmont; 59 mph at Centennial Airport…58 mph at Denver City Park…Highlands Ranch. At Denver International Airport…a peak wind gust to 35 mph was observed from the northwest.


In 1908…a moist…heavy…wet snowfall totaled 13.0 inches in downtown Denver over the 3 days.  Rain from early morning on the 17th changed to snow by late afternoon and continued through the late morning of the 19th.  Due to temperatures in the 30’s and melting…the most snow on the ground was only 5.0 inches at 6:00 pm on the 18th.  Northwest to northeast winds were sustained between 12 and 20 mph during the storm.  Precipitation totaled 1.82 inches.


In 1875…the haze was so dense that the mountains were not visible from downtown Denver for most of the day.

In 1937…a vigorous cold front produced north winds sustained to 32 mph with gusts to 41 mph.  Rain and snow totaled 0.16 inch.  Post-frontal snowfall of 0.8 inch was the only snowfall of the month.

In 1960…post-frontal upslope rain changed to snow. Snowfall was 2.2 inches at Stapleton Airport where precipitation (rain and melted snow) totaled 1.58 inches.

In 1971…wind gusts to 48 mph were recorded in downtown Boulder.  West winds gusted to 30 mph at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1999…heavy snow developed in the foothills west of metro Denver with lesser amounts across the city.  Snowfall totals included:  7 inches near Nederland…6 inches in Boulder…and 5 inches at Chief Hosa.  Only 1.2 inches of snow were measured at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.


In 2003…an extended warm spell resulted in 5 new temperature records.  The high temperature of 84 degrees on the 18th equaled the record high for the date.  High temperatures of 86 degrees on the 19th…83 degrees on the 21st…and 84 degrees on the 22nd were record highs for the dates.  Low temperature of 49 degrees on the 23rd was a record high minimum for the date.  Low temperatures during the period were in the 40’s and lower 50’s.


In 1887…northwest winds sustained to 42 mph were recorded in the city.

In 1982…3 to 6 inches of snow fell over northwest metro Denver…including Boulder.  Only 1.2 inches of snowfall were recorded at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to 35 mph.  This was the first measurable snowfall of the season.


In 1990…an early winter storm dumped heavy snow across metro Denver.  Snowfall amounts ranged from 4 to 8 inches in the foothills above 6500 feet elevation…4 to 7 inches in the Castle Rock area…and 2 to 5 inches across most of metro Denver and Boulder.  Snowfall totaled 3.6 inches at Stapleton International Airport where northwest winds gusting to 48 mph kicked up some blowing dust shortly after a cold frontal passage on the 19th.  However… Temperatures were warm enough to keep most roadways wet and slushy at lower elevations.


In 1906…heavy snowfall totaled 22.7 inches in the city over the 5 days.  Rain changed to snow on the evening of the 19th…and snow continued through the late afternoon of the 23rd.  The heaviest amount of snowfall…16.0 inches…fell from 8:00 pm on the 20th to 8:00 pm on the 22nd.  The most snow on the ground was 13.3 inches on the evening of the 23rd.  This was the first snow of the season and the only snow of the month.  Winds during the storm were from the north at sustained speeds of 20 to 30 mph each day. Temperatures during the storm were generally in the 20’s.


In 1878…between 3:00 pm and 4:00 pm wind speeds averaged 48 mph with a maximum 1 minute sustained velocity to 96 mph at both 3:27 pm and 3:48 pm in downtown Denver.  This is the highest sustained wind speed ever recorded in the city.

In 1986…a rare late October thunderstorm produced 3/4 inch diameter hail at Centennial Airport.  Hail piled up 2 1/2 inches deep…causing some street flooding in south metro Denver.


In 2007…a storm system brought heavy snow to the southern Denver suburbs as well as the palmer divide south of Denver.  Storm totals included:  7.5 inches near Castle Rock…Lone Tree and Greenwood Village…with 6.5 inches at Elizabeth.  Snow drifts up to 2 feet deep were observed 6 miles south-southwest of Elizabeth. In the Denver Stapleton area…2.0 inches of snow was observed.


In 1936…5.5 inches of snow fell over downtown Denver. Most of the snow…4.5 inches…fell on the 20th.


In 1920…the rare event of snow from a thunderstorm occurred in the city during the evening.  Brilliant flashes of lightning and loud peals of thunder were first noted at 7:35 pm.  Light rain began falling at 8:30 pm…and light moist snow began falling a few minutes later.  Some soft hail was also seen falling with the rain and snow…but both melted almost as fast as they fell.  The hail only continued for a few minutes…and the rain and snow ceased about 9:40 pm. The snowfall was the first to occur in Denver this season.  The amount of precipitation at the station measured only 0.01 inch…but heavier amounts were reported from other parts of the city.  Snowfall was only a trace.


In 1978…heavy rain on the 21st changed to snow by daybreak on the 22nd and continued the rest of the day.  This was the first measurable snowfall of the season…but totaled only 1.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport where east winds gusted to 29 mph.  While only a trace of snow covered the ground…precipitation totaled 1.27 inches.


In 1878…winds were sustained to 42 mph.

In 1887…the first measurable snow of the season occurred… Ending the longest snow-free period in Denver…232 days… Since the last snow on March 5th.

In 1947…the first snow of the season totaled only 1.6 inches.  Post-frontal north winds caused temperatures to plunge from a high of 60 degrees at midnight to a low of only 30 degrees 24 hours later.  This was the only snow of the month.

In 1985…high winds gusting from 60 to 80 mph buffeted the Front Range foothills.  The strongest reported wind gust was 89 mph in eastern Boulder.  A treehouse east of Boulder was set on fire by a downed power line.  Two people in Boulder were injured.  A woman broke her arm when the strong winds knocked her to the ground.  A carpenter in the city suffered a severely cut hand while he was trying to repair a roof that was being torn from a building.  At Stapleton International Airport…northwest winds gusted to 41 mph.

In 2001…west-northwest winds gusting as high as 54 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 70 degrees at Denver International Airport.


In 1914…post-frontal rain changed to snow.  Precipitation totaled 2.72 inches…most of which was in the form of moist snow which melted as it fell in the business section of the city.  About 3 inches of snow was measured on lawns in the residential areas on the morning of the 24th.  Official snowfall totaled only 0.4 inch downtown… But an estimated 8.0 inches of snow melted as it fell. North to northeast winds were sustained to 29 mph with gusts to 30 mph on both days.

In 1975…a vigorous cold front moving across metro Denver followed by strong northeast winds gusting to 52 mph produced billows of blowing dust and plunged the temperature 21 degrees in an hour.  The surface visibility was reduced to 1/4 mile in blowing dust at Stapleton International Airport.  The temperature cooled from a daily record high of 81 degrees to a low of 38 degrees by day’s end.  The first snowfall of the season totaled 2.7 inches on the 23rd.  This was the only measurable snow of the month at Stapleton International Airport.

In 1995…heavy snow fell on the Palmer Ridge south of Denver and in the foothills west of Denver where snow amounts ranged from 4 to 8 inches.  Sedalia…south of Denver… Received 8 inches of snow.  Winds strengthened on the plains and produced blizzard conditions…reducing surface visibilities to less than 1/4 mile.  I-70 was closed from just east of Denver at Gun Club Road to the Kansas border.  Ten inches of snow fell at Strasburg east of Denver where north winds at sustained speeds of 35 to 45 mph with gusts as high as 60 mph produced 2 to 4 foot drifts.  Snowfall totaled only 2.2 inches at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.  North winds gusted to 51 mph at Denver International Airport.


In 1876…skies were fair…but winds were sustained to 48 mph.

In 1942…a major storm dumped 10.2 inches of snow over downtown Denver.  Post-frontal northeast winds were sustained to only 13 mph.

In 1955…the first snowfall of the season and the only measurable snow of the month dumped 4.1 inches of snow on Stapleton Airport.  This was the single heaviest October snowfall in 13 years since 1942.  The storm also brought the first sub-freezing temperatures of the season when the temperature dipped to a low of 25 degrees.

In 1956…southwest winds gusted to 53 mph and produced some blowing dust at Stapleton Airport.

In 1967…a northwest wind gust to 51 mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.  In downtown Boulder… Winds were sustained at 20 mph with gusts in excess of 40 mph.

In 1981…strong winds occurred in the foothills.  Wind gusts to 70 mph were reported at Wondervu.


In 1887…the first measurable snowfall of the season totaled 3.1 inches.  North winds to 20 mph were recorded on the 23rd.  This was the only measurable snow of the month.

In 1932…post-frontal snowfall from the late evening of the 23rd continued through the late afternoon of the 24th and totaled 6.2 inches.  Southeast winds were sustained to 25 mph with gusts to 26 mph on the 23rd.  Temperatures cooled from a high of 68 degrees on the 23rd to a low of 25 degrees on the 24th…the coldest reading of the month that year.  Many trees that had not shed their leaves became heavily laden by the wet snow.  Many branches were broken… And a few trees toppled under the weight of the snow.  The landscape became one of rare beauty.

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