January 25, 2007

Snow Joke--Denver's Wintry Weather

Beginning with the blizzard on Dec. 20 and continuing through this weekend, Denver will experienced 6 consecutive weekends of snowy, cold weather. Many around the country think of Denver as some sort of icebox; that, given its altitude and proximity to ski country, the city must be buried under feet of snow each winter. Those who have lived here know that that perception--stoked by the ski industry and no doubt fueled by snowy Denver Broncos games--is not true, and certainly has not been for the past few winters. It is true that Denver is susceptible to the sort of upslope blizzards that make the news and bury the Front Range under several feet of snow. It is also true that this snowfall, as it did in October '97 or March '03, often disappears within a few days. Winter sports enthusiasts still enjoy the powder in the mountains, while in Denver chinook winds and bright, sunny days rapidly melt the most recent storm.

This year, not so much:
Snow on the ground is a weather variable measured by meteorologists, defined as being at least 1 inch of snow depth at the time of observation. This includes both new and old snow, and should be reported even on days with no precipitation.

Typically, it's something we don't have to worry about too much in Denver or on the eastern plains. Snow from a storm at any time of the year will last anywhere from a few days to about a week.

But this year, we stand to break a record if this snowy, cold weather pattern doesn't break soon.

The following list shows the 10 longest streaks with consecutive days of snow cover in Denver, and where the current season ranks.

63 days -- Nov. 26, 1983 -- Jan. 27, 1984
60 days -- Dec. 1, 1913 -- Jan. 29, 1914
48 days -- Dec. 24, 1985 -- Feb. 9, 1983
43 days -- Dec. 19, 1973 -- Jan. 30, 1974
39 days -- Nov. 21, 1992 -- Dec. 29, 1992
38 days -- Dec. 24, 1987 -- Jan. 30, 1988
36 days -- Dec. 21, 2006 -- (present and counting)
35 days -- Jan. 2, 1949 -- Feb. 5, 1949
33 days -- Dec. 17, 1918 -- Jan. 18, 1919
27 days -- Jan. 28, 1989 -- Feb. 23, 1989

Denver has already climbed into 7th place this year and isn't too far from being in the top 5. With more cold and snow in the forecast, there is a chance we will even challenge the top 3 places.
It might be the Gore effect, though I don't recall the Gorebot in Denver anytime in the past few weeks.

Appropriate for Denver this winter:


Blogger Hyunchback said...

Speaking of snow jokes, did you catch the story last weekend concerning the metro area "rail" park for snowboarding? To coat the thing they actually used snow making equipment.

I about had an aneurysm. People STILL begging for the city to remove snow and ice from their streets and we are using tax money to MAKE snow? In the middle of the longest stretch of snow coverage in how long?

Fri Jan 26, 07:42:00 PM  

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