February is normally a rather snowy month in Denver, producing an average of 7.7 inches of snow. But what happened this year was something else. The month started with a 74-degree day that was quickly overcome by a more than 60-degree temperature drop, and ever since then it seems like the snow’s been flying. In fact, of the 29 days (it’s a leap year) in February, snow was reported on 16 days of the month.
As for total accumulation? Denver officially picked up 16.5 inches of snow in February at Denver International Airport, where official totals are measured, ranking it the eleventh snowiest February on record. According to data from the Denver-Stapleton site, which better represents how much snow downtown Denver has seen, we picked up 17 inches, making February 2020 in Denver the sixth snowiest on record. Those who live on the western and southern sides of town know that number does not match what they saw. Boulder received almost three feet of snow in February, Roxborough State Park saw over 40 inches, and Evergreen saw nearly 28 inches during the month.
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And all this happened without any blockbuster storms. The biggest snowfall produced 5 inches of snow officially at Denver International Airport, but most storms brought less than 3 inches. Several cold fronts with limited moisture were the cause for the low-end snow totals, but thanks to those cold fronts, the snow stuck around. We had at least one inch of snow on the ground for 15 consecutive days and had a least a trace of snow on the ground for 20 consecutive days.
The weather in Colorado is a fickle beast, but this winter has really proven it. February’s big snow totals came after an extremely dry January—a month in which the city saw only 0.9 inches of snow. December produced only 2.8 inches. But remember the way our snow season started? October produced 12.5 inches of snow (almost three times the normal) and November produced 13.7 inches—almost twice the normal.
So far this winter, we have either seriously over-performed or underperformed on a month-to-month basis. So, as we head into March and April—Denver’s snowiest months—what can we expect?
March is a transition month for Colorado, as is April, which means they often produce extreme weather. Because we’re entering the transition point between winter and spring, we’ll see big clashes in warm air and cold air which sometimes produces intense snowstorms (remember the bomb cyclone in March of 2019?), and sometimes leads to severe weather events like hailstorms and tornadoes. In terms of accumulation, the snow we normally see in March and April provide Denver with 35 percent of its annual snowfall. March sees just under a foot of snow on average with April delivering just under 9 inches.
Denver’s average March temperature is 40.4 degrees, but it’s not uncommon to see days that reach the 60s, 70s, or even the 80s. And the average precipitation amounts to 0.92 inches of liquid water—though much of that will come in the form of snow.
According to the Climate Prediction Center, between March and May this year it’s hard to predict whether precipitation will be above or below historical averages. However, it does show that we can expect slightly above-normal temperatures during this period. Ultimately, there’s not much saying that this March and April are going to over- or under-produce in terms of snowfall. But be prepared: Statistically, these are still the snowiest months of the year.