It’s been another agonizing week of watching the weather models go from something to nearly nothing in terms of the chance of snow for Denver.
Early estimates of 1-3 inches of snow have now diminished to a mediocre possibility of just a dusting adding up. That means, there’s a chance the city’s official reporting station out at Denver International Airport may not see any snow at all and that would continue Denver’s snowless streak.
The National Weather Service (NWS) in Boulder is being liberal with its forecast of less than 1-inch of snow falling in Denver by Friday afternoon. The parameters that were working for us getting snow, like adequate moisture being in place and upslope flow creating a classic snow set up, has now turned into inadequate moisture and downsloping winds which gives way to the possibility that we may remain completely dry.
“It’s hard to envision much snowfall occurring in that narrow window Friday morning given so many things against it, most importantly dry low-level air in place, then reinforced during the afternoon, and essentially no upslope flow east of the foothills. It’s quite possible many areas along the Front Range get no snow at all,” the NWS in Boulder said in its morning weather discussion.
There still is a possibility between 5 a.m. and noon on Friday that some areas along the Front Range may see some flakes flying but whether that adds up to anything or not will be the question. This could be another situation where the western suburbs of Denver, and maybe even downtown Denver proper, may see a dusting of snow but the chance diminishes greatly as you head east meaning that Denver airport (where the official weather records are kept) could end up with no snow.
If that were to be the case, Denver would continue its streak of snowless days. As of Thursday, Denver has gone 233 days without seeing accumulating snow. The record number of days Denver has gone between accumulating snows was 235 days back in 1887. It is still possible for Denver to pick up just a tenth of an inch of snow on Friday which would end that streak but the chance of Denver not getting a tenth of an inch of snow is greater and more likely at this point.
It’s been a pattern we’ve watched all season long. Storms approach our area and show the promise of at least something happening but then as details are worked out, storms have trended northward dissolving any chances of snow. This is something that could be expected with a La Niña pattern. The storm track tends to sway just north of Colorado leaving us mainly dry east of the mountains.
Regardless of if we get snow or not on Friday, we are still waiting for our first measurable snow of the season and are well past the old record latest date of the first snow.
Latest first snow dates in Denver
1) 2021 — TBD
2) 1934 — Nov. 21
3) 1931 — Nov. 19
4) 2016 — Nov. 17
5) 1894 — Nov. 16
We are still watching for a strong cold front to push through Friday morning. That will deliver some very cold air to the Front Range cities. Highs will top out just above freezing for Denver and the winds will be gusting up to 25 mph, so Friday, regardless of if it snows or not, is expected to be a raw winter day. Highs will return to average on Saturday and then will go back above average for the end of the weekend into early next week. Our next storm that could bring impacts to the area doesn’t look to be here until midweek next week.
Andy Stein is a freelance meteorologist.
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