More spring snow in Denver? Winter isn’t done with Colorado


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Thunderstorms and 70-degree days have arrived in Denver, but that doesn’t mean the snow season is over yet.

DENVER — The winds of change are in the air in Denver so to speak.

Instead of a traditional winter storm on Monday, hail, graupel, and rain covered the Denver metro area while there was zero snow. That type of storm coverage is usually a signal that the snow season is winding to a close.

The season is, in fact, winding down, but on average that final snow in Denver doesn’t come until April 29.

Climate change is having an impact. Spring snow is on the decline on the Colorado Front Range and so too is the frequency of winter storms, particularly during the months of April and May. 

The amount of snow in April and May has declined by 23% in Denver over the last 30 years. More than five feet less snow since 1994 compared to 1964-1993.

But the date of the final snow has not been getting any earlier. In fact, over the last 19 years, which is how long snow records have officially been kept at Denver International Airport (DIA), the average final snow comes on May 1. One day later than the historical average. 

So, history says Denver should expect at least one more snow accumulation this season.

The information coming from long-range computer modeling would also suggest that at least one more snow is still to come.

The polar vortex over the north pole would normally start to speed up and tighten by mid-March as the middle latitudes warm. That reduces the chance of a cold outbreak during the spring months, but this season the polar vortex is still very slow and unorganized. That does slightly increase the chances for cold arctic air to spill all the way down to Colorado.

And the 14-day jet stream forecast shows several low-pressure storm systems capable of bringing that cold air to the Front Range. The first system on Saturday will likely include another round of convective storms like we saw on Monday.

So, one of those storm cells would have to line up the weather station at the airport and also happen at a time of day where the temperatures are cold enough for snow to fall and accumulate. In other words, the chances of snow accumulation at DIA is low. 

The next storm system which is forecast to impact Denver around Apr. 10-11, will have a little more of a southern storm track which could bring a little better chance for snow in Denver, however the initial forecast temperatures with that storm appear to be too warm for snow accumulation. 

One more system is likely before the middle of April but it’s too far out to get any early details. 

The last time there was snow accumulation in Denver was March 25, if somehow there isn’t any more snow, it would be the earliest final snow since 1969. The last time the final snow in Denver came before April was in 1992. 

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More spring snow in Denver? Winter isn’t done with Colorado

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