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We hope your Valentine’s Day plans include staying in and getting cozy, because a stream of cold, arctic air is poised to sweep through the Centennial State in the coming days, casting a chill over the holiday weekend and giving us our first real taste of winter this season.
Though we (thankfully) won’t experience the extreme lows seen in places like Minnesota, the Dakotas, or Montana—which have forecast up to 40 to 70 degrees below zero—Denverites can expect prolonged subzero temperatures to dampen your outdoor date plans for at least the next week or so.
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Temperatures in areas east of Denver, like Ft. Morgan and Sterling, haven’t risen out of the teens since early this week. The Denver metro area, on the other hand, has so far been riding the western edge of the cold snap, but that’s about to change, as daytime highs are projected to stay below 20 degrees until at least next Tuesday.
Sunday is currently forecast to be the coldest day, with highs expected to remain below 10 degrees. The lows are likely to fall below zero, with some areas seeing negative temperatures in the double digits.
Bitterly cold temperatures settle across eastern Colorado this weekend! Highs Sunday will likely be only in single digits, with lows plunging below zero Sunday night. Ensure outdoor animals will have adequate protection, and check heating systems and pipe insulation now. #COwx pic.twitter.com/CRZuqSDFxV
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) February 11, 2021
This cold snap could challenge a few records and will be the first subzero temperature readings along the urban corridor this winter. While it’s not rare for Colorado to see subzero temperatures at some point during the cold-weather months, the wide reach and duration of this weather event is notable. Ice storms, snowstorms, and bitterly cold temperatures are currently impacting folks from southern Texas to the Great Lakes, bringing weather conditions that haven’t been seen in more than 50 years in some cases.
With all this talk of cold, you’d hope we would at least have some snow to go with it—and we might! The forecast is calling for a couple inches of snow across the metro area from Friday to Monday, with the best chance of accumulation coming Saturday night into Sunday morning. Given the bitter cold, expect that any snow that falls will likely stick to the roads—so be careful out there, especially if you’re traversing the mountain corridors.
Speaking of the high country, the mountains have been getting pounded with snow over the last few weeks, which has helped improve our dismal snowpack. We’re still sitting below average, at 85 percent of normal across all of our basins, but the good news is that the next 10 days are poised to be snowy—with at least a foot of snow, if not more, projected at most mountain locations.
Though the freezing temps will be an adjustment, the state needs the moisture and a break from the continuous warmth we’ve seen. According to the Colorado Climate Center, Colorado hasn’t had a month with below-average temperatures since April 2020, and a wetter than average month since February 2020. So bundle up and enjoy the fresh powder, or stay in and Netflix and chill—either way there will be plenty of warm weather days on the horizon.