Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Front Range Snow Climate Is Weird

It's mid April, winter is over, and of course Colorado's Front Range is getting pounded with snow.

The 24-hour snow totals ending this morning show a swath of 30+ inches in the foothills west of Denver.  Add another 10 inches or so to that for the 2-day storm totals in that area.

In the mountains, Loveland Pass is reporting a 48 hour snow total of 32 inches, Winter Park 24 inches, and Arapahoe Basin 25 inches (the latter is a 3-day total, but probably most fell in the last 48).

This late-season snowfall is not unusual for the Front Range.  For sites near and east of the Continental Divide, March and April are the snowiest months climatologically.  For example, at Nederland west of Boulder (period of record 1970-1988), the monthly mean snowfall in March and April is 23.9 and 24.3 inches, respectively, compared with 13.3 and 13.1 in January and February.  At Berthoud Pass (period of record 1950–1985, the monthly mean snowfall in March and April is 57.9 and 54.6 inches, compared with 49.8 and 42.4 inches in January and February.  

Those high averages averages in March and April are propped up by intermittent but large upslope snowstorms in easterly flow.  Some of the largest snowfall events in these areas have occurred in March and April.

What can I say?  The Front Range snow climate is weird.  They should try to shift that snow to winter where it can be better utilized.


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  2. about 10 years ago I got stuck in CO for 2 days post spring break visiting my parents by one of these upslope storms. Winter Park had something like 75" in 48 hours. We were water skiing in Denver saturday. 3 feet of snow fell starting Sunday night - Monday.