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Public Information Statement
Statement as of 2:59 am MST on December 21, 2014
... Today in Metro Denver weather history...
17-24 in 1924... a prolonged cold spell occurred after mild temperatures during the first half of the month. Most low temperatures dipped below zero with the coldest reading of 15 degrees below zero occurring on the 24th. The high temperature of only 5 degrees on the 18th was a record low maximum for the date. 18-21 in 2010... a winter storm produced a 4-day period of moderate to heavy snow in the mountains. The combination of strong wind and heavy snow forced the closure of several mountain passes due to the threat of avalanches. The amtrack train Route... which runs from Denver to California... was rerouted through Wyoming when Union Pacific closed its tracks along Interstate 70. Numerous accidents forced the closure of I-70 at times. The wind gusted to 60 mph over the higher mountain passes. Storm totals in the ski areas west of Denver ranged from 16 to 32 inches. 18-24 in 1998... a vigorous cold front with north winds gusting as high as 38 mph at Denver International Airport on the 18th dropped temperatures from a high of 51 degrees to a low of just 6 degrees before midnight. The Arctic air mass that settled over Metro Denver produced intermittent light snow and a week-long protracted cold spell that caused low temperatures to plunge well below zero for 6 consecutive nights. The coldest temperature was 19 degrees below zero on the morning of the 22nd. High temperatures climbed only into the single digits on 4 consecutive days... from the 19th through the 22nd. At least 15 people... mostly homeless... were treated for hypothermia at area hospitals. The bitter cold weather was responsible... either directly or indirectly... for at least 5 fatalities. Three of the victims died directly from exposure. The cold weather also caused intermittent power outages. Following the cold snap... thawing water pipes cracked and burst in several homes and businesses... causing extensive damage. Only one temperature record was set. The high temperature of only 7 degrees on the 19th set a record low maximum for the date. 19-23 in 1990... a surge of very cold Arctic air invaded Metro Denver. Many temperature records were broken as the Mercury remained at or below zero for 85.5 hours at Stapleton International Airport... making it the third longest period of subzero readings in 118 years of record keeping. On the morning of the 22nd... the Mercury plunged to 25 degrees below zero... which equaled the all time record low temperature for the month set on December 24... 1876. In the foothills southwest of Denver at Tiny Town... the Mercury plunged to 33 degrees below zero on the morning of the 21st. On the same morning at Castle Rock the temperature dipped to 26 degrees below zero. During the period... other daily temperature records were set at Denver... including: record low maximum of 3 degrees below zero on the 20th and a record low of 17 degrees below zero on the 23rd. The record low was equaled with 16 degrees below zero on the 20th and 21 degrees below zero on the 21st. Snowfall totaled 2.7 inches at Stapleton International Airport from the 19th through the 21st. 20-21 in 1969... high winds caused widespread... but mostly minor damage to roofs... windows... and power lines and overturned some house trailers in areas along and just east of the foothills. Wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph were reported in Boulder and south of Boulder at Rocky Flats. A wind gust to 115 mph was measured in Boulder at the National center for atmospheric research. At Stapleton International Airport... west winds gusted to 44 mph on the 20th and to 45 mph on the 21st. The warm Chinook winds warmed the high temperature to 56 degrees on the 20th and to 65 degrees on the 21st. In 2006... a major blizzard buried greater Metro Denver and the adjacent foothills in deep snow. A slow moving upper level low pressure center produced deep moist upslope flow over the High Plains and against the eastern slopes of the mountains... allowing heavy snowfall to persist for 34 hours across Metro Denver. Total snow accumulations ranged from 1 to 2 1/2 feet across the city and from 2 to nearly 4 feet in the foothills. Adding to the misery... strong north winds sustained at 20 to 35 mph with gusts from 45 to nearly 60 mph produced much blowing snow and piled the snow into drifts from 6 to 12 feet high... closing businesses and bringing all transportation to a halt. The storm forced the closure of Denver International Airport for a total of 45 hours which snarled the nation's air traffic system. This was the longest closure in the airport's 12 year history. The closure stranded nearly 5000 travelers when 2000 flights were canceled. Many inbound flights were diverted to other airports... stranding even more passengers. Many of the stranded travelers failed to reach their final destinations until days after the Airport re-opened due to fully booked flights during the Holiday season. Police and National guardsmen rescued hundreds of commuters stuck in their cars... and sent them to temporary shelters set up by the Red Cross. All interstates and other major highways in and out of Denver were closed. Greyhound was forced to cancel all bus trips from Denver. Mail delivery was suspended. The regional transportation district suspended all Metro Denver bus service for the first time since the March 2003 blizzard. The roof of a discount store in Aurora collapsed under the weight of the heavy snow. In Lakewood... a power outage left 5600 residents without electricity for a brief time. Metro Denver snowfall amounts included: 34 inches 10 miles southeast of Buckley AFB... 32 inches in Littleton... 30 inches in Thornton and near Castle Rock... 29.5 inches near Parker... 28 inches in Wheat Ridge... 25.5 inches at Centennial Airport... 25 inches at Niwot... 24 inches in Aurora... 22.5 inches at Greenwood Village... 22 inches in Arvada... 21.5 inches in Lakewood... 20 inches in Longmont... and 15.5 inches in Boulder. Snowfall measured 20.7 inches officially in the Denver Stapleton area. This ranked the snowfall as the 7th greatest in the city since 1946. North winds were sustained to 37 mph with gusts to 55 mph at Denver International Airport. In the foothills snowfall totaled: 42 inches at Conifer and 11 miles southwest of Boulder... 40 inches at Evergreen... 39 inches at Aspen Springs... 37.5 inches 8 miles north of Blackhawk... 33 inches near Nederland... 31 inches at intercanyon and near Tiny Town... 30.5 inches atop BUckhorn Mountain... 30 inches near Indian HIlls... 29 inches at Rollinsville... 24 inches near Gross Reservoir and Ralston Reservoir... 22.4 inches atop Crow Hill... and 20 inches near Georgetown. Snowpacked and rutted streets and parking lots persisted for a month or more after the storm and subsequent storms. The heavy snowfall created a snow removal controversy when many citizens complained that residential streets were not cleared in a timely manner in the city and in some suburban areas. This was in spite of the fact that tens of millions of dollars were spent on snow removal. In the city of Denver... snow cover of an inch or more from this storm and subsequent storms persisted for 61 consecutive days... through February 19... 2007. This is the second longest period of snow cover on record in the city. Many homeowners who had extensive Christmas lights and decorations in their yards were not able to remove the lights because the wires were buried in deep snow and ice until the end of February or later. 20-22 in 1933... strong downslope winds produced a warm spell. Low temperatures of 43 degrees on both the 20th and 21st and 41 degrees on the 22nd were record high minimums for those dates. High temperature of 67 degrees on the 21st was a record maximum for the date. High temperatures of 56 degrees on the 20th and 69 degrees on the 22nd were not records; however... the 69 degrees was the warmest of the month. West to northwest winds were sustained to 20 and 24 mph on the 21st and 22nd respectively. 20-23 in 1918... light snowfall on each day totaled 12.0 inches over downtown Denver. Northeast winds were sustained to 16 mph on the 21st. 20-25 in 1983... an extremely bitter cold spell occurred. The temperature remained below zero for 115 hours in Denver... the longest sub-zero period on record. The Mercury dipped to 21 degrees below zero on the 21st... the coldest recorded temperature in over 20 years. The cold was accompanied by winds that plunged chill factors to 50 to 70 degrees below zero. Two people froze to death in denver; both were found outside dead of exposure. Numerous cases of frostbite were reported. Hundreds of water pipes broke from the intense cold... water mains and natural gas lines also fractured... and electricity consumption reached record levels. Light snow totaling 5.8 inches fell at times... and Holiday traffic was delayed at Stapleton International Airport for several hours. Eight daily temperature records were set at the time. The all-time record low maximum temperature for the month of 8 degrees below zero on the 21st still stands today. Other temperature records still standing include record low maximum temperatures of 5 degrees below zero on both the 22nd and 23rd and 4 degrees below zero on the 24th. 21 in 1884... light snow fell from an apparent cloudless sky between 4:15 am and 5:00 am. Snowfall totaled 3.5 inches for the day. In 1900... west winds sustained to 46 mph with gusts to 54 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 59 degrees. In 1910... heavy snowfall totaled 8.0 inches in downtown Denver. Northwest winds were sustained to 25 mph. In 1961... strong winds associated with a cold front whipped snow across Metro Denver. West wind gusts to 62 mph were recorded at Stapleton Airport. There was considerable damage to power lines... signs... and Christmas decorations. In Denver... 4 people were injured by wind-caused accidents. Two small planes were flipped over at Stapleton Airport while attempting to land. Only a trace of snow fell at Stapleton Airport. In 1983... the high temperature climbed to only 8 degrees below zero at Stapleton International Airport. This set the record for the lowest maximum temperature of the month. In 1987... strong winds howled in the foothills and in Boulder. Wind gusts reached 78 mph in east Boulder... 85 mph at Table Mesa in southwest Boulder... 93 mph near Rollinsville... and 97 mph at the National center for atmospheric research in Boulder. West winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport. 21-22 in 1969... strong winds raked the eastern foothills in Boulder and Jefferson counties. Wind gusts to 115 mph were recorded at the National center for atmospheric research in Boulder... while in downtown Boulder winds gusted to 75 mph. Some damage occurred. In 1981... a snow storm dumped 3 to 8 inches of snow across eastern Colorado. Snowfall totaled 6.8 inches at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted to only 17 mph. In 2011... large scale lift from an upper level low combined with a deep easterly upslope flow behind a cold front to produce heavy snow in and near the Front Range foothills and Palmer Divide. Storm totals ranged from 1.5 to 3 feet in the Front Range foothills... with 1 to 1.5 feet along the urban corridor. In the Front Range foothills and Palmer Divide... storm totals included: 36.5 inches... 7 miles southwest of boulder; 32 inches... 12 miles northwest of golden; 28 inches at genesee; 24.5 inches... 3 miles west of jamestown; 23 inches at Bergen park; 21 inches at Evergreen and gross reservoir; 19 inches near Eldorado Springs and 3 miles west-southwest of conifer; 17 inches... 4 miles south- southwest of tiny town; and 13.5 inches... 15 miles north of Elizabeth. Along the urban corridor... storm totals included: 18 inches in golden; 14.5 inches in Boulder... 13 inches at the National Weather Service in boulder; 12.5 inches... 5 miles south-southwest of Arapahoe park; 12 inches at lone tree; 11.5 inches in broomfield; 11 inches in Arvada... 4 miles northwest of Elbert... Niwot and wheatridge; 10 inches in northwest denver; with 7.3 inches at Denver International Airport. 21-23 in 1924... heavy snowfall totaled 7.9 inches over downtown Denver. During the storm north to northeast winds were sustained to 21 mph. Temperatures were quite cold... ranging from a high of 24 degrees on the 21st to a low of 5 degrees below zero on the 23rd. In 1964... high winds were recorded along the eastern foothills. A wind gust to 100 mph was registered at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield. In Boulder... where many thousands of dollars in damage occurred... warm Chinook winds gusted in excess of 45 mph downtown. A wind gust to 82 mph was recorded at the National center for atmospheric research in Boulder. Heavy damage to power lines... homes... and roads was reported at Evergreen... Golden... and Boulder. Several people were injured by wind-caused accidents. West winds gusted to 53 mph on the 22nd and to 51 mph on the 23rd at Stapleton International Airport where some blowing dust occurred. The Chinook winds warmed temperatures in Denver to highs of 68 degrees on the 22nd and 71 degrees on the 23rd.
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