As of 11:23 AM, the temperature in Denver has risen to 0°, with a wind chill of only -11°. There’s a good 6-7″ of fresh snow in my yard.
The “climate experts” assure me that this is due to anthropogenic global warming. So I’m going to do my part and not drive anywhere for the rest of the weekend.
UPDATE, 10:30 PM: We topped out at 3° this afternoon, a new record low high. Earlier this evening, it dropped to -15°, a new record low. But recently the wind shifted from the north to the south, so it’s “warmed up” to -3°. So I guess the worst is over.
Fifty years ago last night, the Plum Creek drainage south of Denver received 14 inches of rain in just 3 hours. That sent a massive amount of water into the South Platte River and right into the heart of Denver. Depending on who’s telling the story and where they were when they witnessed it, the wall of water was somewhere between 20 and 40 feet high. 9News has a pretty good piece on the flood, with videos, if you can read through it without accidentally clicking away (don’t click anywhere to the left or right of the story column).
That flood led to the building of Chatfield Dam southwest of Denver just a few years later. It (along with dams on Cherry Creek and Bear Creek) has prevented a repeat occurrence. Chatfield State Park is a major recreation area. But there’s not much recreating this year because a large portion of the park is covered in water. It’s designed to work that way; by using the surrounding park area for additional water storage, Chatfield Reservoir can cope with copious amounts of rainfall and snowmelt.
This year, it’s had to, and is at the highest level since it was built. Not only is an unusually large snowpack melting very fast, but in the six weeks since May 1, Denver has only had (depending on who’s counting and where they measure) 4-7 days without rain. This has so far been one of the wettest years on record in Denver. And the foothills west of Denver and Palmer Divide to the south have gotten much more rain than Denver.
Officially, Denver set a new record for February snowfall, but just barely. Through Friday, the official total snowfall was 22.4 inches, just edging out the previous record of 22.1 set in 1912. But wait…
Since 2008, the National Weather Service’s official recording site has been Denver International Airport, about 20 miles east of downtown. In 1912, the official site was in downtown Denver. Being so far out on the eastern plains, DIA typically gets less snow than areas farther to the west. That’s because it sees less of the upslope effect that brings heavy snowfall when winds from the east or northeast hit the mountains west of Denver and the Palmer Divide to the south.
According to KMGH-7 meteorologist Matt Makens, the old record for downtown Denver was unofficially broken a couple of days earlier (and subsequent snow no doubt pushed the total there several inches higher). The unofficial City Park recording station, just a couple or three miles from downtown, recorded over 30 inches in February.
It was in the mid-40s at 9 this morning. Then the cold front moved in. We’re in the mid-20s now, and headed near 0° by morning. The snow began around mid-afternoon and is expected to continue until tomorrow afternoon or evening. It’s very lovely and Christmas-y, but I’m glad I don’t have to go anywhere; the roads are a mess.
Historically, Denver has snow on Christmas 14% of the time — a one-in-seven chance. Our last white Christmas was 2007, so this year’s Christmas snowfall is right on schedule. 🙂
About half of that temperature drop came in 20 minutes. Yep, the cold front is here.
Fortunately, the worst of the bitter cold will stay over the eastern half of the country, where all those blue-staters are so concerned about global warming.
Unfortunately, the Colorado state government is controlled by Dems concerned about global warming. The legislature just enacted strict new rules against methane emissions. Guess I’ll have to give up burritos.
I lived in Knoxville, TN, from 1961-64 and 1967-82. That was a long time ago, and maybe my memory is failing me, but I don’t recall during all those years ever seeing a 6-inch snowfall. Or hearing of 7 inches in Chattanooga. I’m guessing my friends in East Tennessee — heck, folks throughout the eastern half of the country — are about ready for a good dose of global warming. 🙂
Here’s a little ditty that will help you all get through the next arctic blast:
If you like variety, you’ve gotta love Colorado weather. After the wettest and second-snowiest February on record, March was the driest and second-warmest on record. This past weekend, Denver had clear blue skies and temps in the mid to upper 80s.
Thirty-odd hours later, it’s cold and windy — and starting to snow. 7News is forecasting that Denver will get 4″ tonight and tomorrow, while areas south and west of town will get 9-12″ or more. Seventeen Colorado counties are under winter weather advisories, watches, or warnings.
I guess I got my shorts and Hawaiian shirts out too soon.
Last week, I mentioned that this year's La Niña was bringing lots of snow to the mountains, while leaving Denver and the eastern plains mild and dry. Since then, it's been doing that in spades. The weather reports have switched from forecasting snow totals in inches to feet.
Colorado's ski resorts have received 1-3 feet or more of new snow since the weekend. And it's just getting started. The jet-stream pattern they call the "Pineapple Express" continues to funnel Pacific moisture into the Colorado mountains at a prodigious rate.
The southwestern part of the state, which had been neglected by earlier storms, has been especially favored by this one. Silverton Mountain (a.k.a. Purgatory) got almost 3 feet in a 24-hour period. In one week, the region went from a snowpack of less than 50% of normal to well over 100%.
By Christmas Eve, many locations above 9,000 ft. will have gotten 7-8 feet of new snow. Everyone's using the phrase "epic snowfall" to describe what's happening.
I don't mean to sound like the Colorado Tourism Office, but if you're a skier or boarder, you need to get your ass up there. 🙂
For the benefit (?) of those of you back east suffering under some of the worst winter weather in ages, the low in Denver on Tuesday morning was 35°. That's 2° above Atlanta's high for the day. We reached a record high of 70°. Lest you blame my SUV, the previous record of 69° was set in the 1920s before there were SUVs.
Denver has had an extremely mild and dry winter so far, with lots of days in the 60s recently. Atlanta has had more snow so far this December than Denver. The reason isn't global warming, it's a strong La Niña. But before you Easterners get too jealous, we're about to get a change. A cold front moving in Wednesday afternoon should bring 3-6" of snow to the Denver area by Thursday morning, along with highs in the 30s.
If news of our mild weather is causing you to reconsider that ski trip, don't. The La Niña pattern, as usual, has been sending Pacific storms out of the northwest into the Rockies every few days for many weeks, and the mountain snowfalls have been epic. Steamboat had a record November, with over 90" of snow. Most of the other big destination resorts aren't far behind. The northern and central mountain resorts have been getting about a foot or so of new snow every 3 or 4 days for weeks now.
It's the best of both worlds — awesome snow in the mountains and golfing or biking weather down here in the city. The only problem for skiers has been getting to the mountains. They have to time their drive in between I-70 closures. 🙂
UPDATE (12/16): The winter storm for Denver fizzled. No snow, just cold — so I think Atlanta's still ahead of us in December snowfall. 🙂 But the mountains got a decent dumping, and I-70 was closed for several hours.
We had about 10" of wet, heavy snow yesterday and overnight — typical March storm — and all over Denver there were fallen branches and downed trees and power lines. On one of the local newscasts tonight, they talked with a "tree expert" (I think he was from the Denver Forestry Dept.) about what people should do to save their trees. He advised people to try to knock the snow off because "if it freezes overnight, it'll become twice as heavy."
Who knew that H2O was capable of such an amazing transformation? Is that what they mean by "heavy water"?