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Runner Gilbert Lemieux moves along a path in Washington Park as a winter storm drifts over the intermountain West on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Denver. Photo by David Zalubowski / AP Photo

Snow Has Returned to Denver—And More Is on the Way

After one of Denver's driest stretches in recent history, snow has returned to the metro area. Plus, here's a look at snow totals and forecasts for the mountains in February.

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With February came a burst of warm weather. Then, just as suddenly, the return of winter. If you can recall, the last couple months were lackluster in terms of snowfall: Over the course of December and January, Denver received just 3 inches of snow at the Denver–Stapleton reporting station and 3.7 inches at Denver International Airport.

Those 3.7 inches marks the fourth lowest amount of snow during that period on record—in fact, you’d have to go back to 1888 to find such a dry stretch during these winter months. In January alone, Denver saw only 0.9 inches of snow at DIA, while typically we receive about 6.6 inches. For those counting, we just experienced the seventh least-snowy January on record.

Despite all this, we’re still running above average in terms of season snow totals. Thanks to more than a foot of snow that fell in both October and November, we had a buffer that helped us stay above normal as we went into a dry period. As of February 1, Denver is sitting about 4 inches above normal for the season.

After a more than 50-degree temperature drop between Sunday, February 2—which was actually a record-tying day for heat—snow was flying on Monday and didn’t stop til Tuesday afternoon. While Denver only officially picked up 2.8 inches of snow, the city crashed into a period of extreme cold. On Wednesday morning, we had our first negative temperatures readings (-5 degrees) since late November. But don’t put away your hats and scarves just yet—the forecast is looking chilly and snowy in the weeks ahead.

More on the Way

That arctic blast we’ve been freezing through was just the beginning of a long stretch of active weather headed for the Centennial State. As the month drags on, the chances of snowfall will continue.

February 6–7: Yep, we have a chance of snow returning to the region again on Thursday night into Friday. An additional 2–6 inches may fall by Friday night, with the heaviest to the north and east of Denver. Winter driving conditions may exist, so be prepared for a slower commute on Friday.

February 9–11: The longer-range models are hinting at another round of snow between Sunday and Tuesday of next week, which could also provide minor accumulation.

February 12–15: More light to moderate snow may blow in late next week. But at this point it’s far out to know more details.

February 15–17: It’s hard to decipher the differences in these systems at this point, but another round of snow is possible nearly two weeks from now. The forecasts will likely change, but early models show there is a different weather pattern that may impact us.

What About the Mountains?

While Denver will see modest amounts of snowfall, the mountains are posed to get walloped with new snow (winter adventurers rejoice!).

February 5–7: This storm is so significant that the National Weather Service is already issuing Winter Storm alerts. The north-central mountains will benefit the most with 1 to 3 feet expected, but the northwest-facing slopes could see significantly more than that. The southern mountains can also expect between 10 and 20 inches of snow. Because this will be an extended period of snowfall, there will be a prolonged period of tough travel conditions in the mountains. Read: plan accordingly.

February 9–12: Another round of snow is expected during this period, but this time the southern mountains will receive the majority of it. Early estimates are calling for the possibility of 5 to 15 inches, and for the north-central mountains, roughly 4 to 10 inches of snow can be expected.

February 13–20: More signs of intermittent snow are expected even a few weeks out in the mountains. This will all add to our above-average snowpack, but may also lead to an increased risk for avalanche danger for a prolonged period of time. Snowpack as of January 31 is sitting at 109 percent of average on a statewide level, which is expected to increase as more storms move in. We have also seen a reduction of the severity of drought in some mountain locations thanks to the snow that continued to fall throughout the high country.

Snowiest Months Ahead

Sure, February looks like it’s shaping up to see its fair share of flurries, but it’s worth remembering that Denver’s snowiest months are still to come. On average, February produces 7.7 inches of snow, March produces 11.4 inches, and April produces 8.9 inches.

Of course, it’s way too early to know how much snow we’ll actually get in February, but with what’s already fallen, plus what’s expected, it seems like we’ll have an average month. However, high-elevation areas haven’t really had a break since October. Most of the snow has come in persistent waves, which has led to our snowpack staying between 5 and 20 percent above average for any given time this season. As we head into the next few months, the mountains will experience heavy snow, with some of Colorado’s biggest mountain and city snowstorms happening in March and April.

Stay up to date with current weather alerts and official forecasts from the National Weather Service. Track road conditions and closures by following the Colorado DOT. And as always, stay safe out there. 

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