Dec 10, 2021 - News

Denver finally sees its first snow of the season

An overhead sign advises motorists to take caution on Interstate 25 in Greenwood Village. Photo:David Zalubowski/AP
An overhead sign advises motorists to take caution on Interstate 25 in Greenwood Village. Photo:David Zalubowski/AP

This morning, we spring from our beds to see the weather.

  • Our wondering eyes want to know: Did it snow?

Yes. At least downtown.

Why it matters: We need the snow, or the moisture, at least.

The forecast: The National Weather Service put the chance of snow at 60% but it may not amount to much.

  • The earlier forecasts predicted 1-3 inches, but now the total is expected to be less than 1 inch with forecasters acknowledging the possibility of "no snow at all" for some areas.
  • The odds plummeted when the atmospheric moisture and upslope winds that produce Front Range snow dissipated, meteorologist Andy Stein reports.

State of play: It needs to snow at Denver International Airport β€” the official recording station for the city's precipitation β€” to be official. If it lands at least one-tenth an inch, today will go down as the city's latest first snow in recorded history. The previous record was set Nov. 21, 1934.

  • The city's snowless streak stood at 233 days Thursday β€” just shy of the all-time record at 235 days from 1887.

Of note: The high country is getting pounded with its own much-needed blanket of snowfall. Before the storm, the snowpack averaged 50% of normal, according to OpenSnow meteorologist Joel Gratz.

  • The highest mountain totals reported so far are Grand Mesa at 22 inches and Crested Butte at 20 inches. Steamboat and Vail ski resorts are each reporting 10 inches.

Between the lines: Just because snow is elusive this year, it's not time to panic yet, says Weather5280's Matt Makens.

  • "Our recent worst years, both 2000 and 2013, eventually got back to near average by the end of the season, so just being a slow starter does not imply the season is lost," he writes.
  • "That's not a bad historical perspective to show that Denver, too, can end up near average to above for snowfall even after a very slow start."

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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