When Will it Finally Snow in Denver? Don’t Hold Your Breath

Posted: November 19, 2021 10:17 am

Forecasters Warn it Could be the Middle of December Before Measurable Snowfall Accumulates

It has been an unusual fall for the Denver area with no measurable snow on record. The Mile High City has not seen any snow accumulation since last spring. When can residents finally expect to see the flakes fly?

Will a Record Fall?

With no snow imminent in the long-range forecast, it is a good possibility that Denver will break the all-time record for the latest calendar date of the first measurable snowfall of the season. The latest date that the city has ever recorded snowfall for the season is November 21, set back in 1934.

The last time that Denver saw snow accumulation was April 21. While a quick-moving system produced a few flurries in the downtown area on Wednesday morning, the snow quickly dissipated and did not stick to any surfaces.

Average Date of First Measurable Snowfall

In an average year, Denver records its first measurable snowfall around October 18. In order to be defined as measurable snow, there needs to be at least 0.1 of an inch of accumulation. If flakes fall down but do not accumulate to this amount, experts consider it to be a trace of snow.

This is exactly what happened on October 15 at Denver International Airport, located just to the east of the city. While there was snow falling to the ground, it was quickly melting because surfaces were still so warm. This happened again on the first two days of November.

Why the Lack of Snow?

So why is Colorado’s capital city not seeing the usual amount of snow by this time in the season? Meteorologists are pointing to La Niña as a major reason for the lack of snow thus far.

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This weather phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean sets up when the water temperatures hovering near the equator measure lower than normal. This reduction in sea surface temperatures can heavily influence the jet stream across North America, changing the course and intensity of storms as they move across the continent.

The current La Niña pattern is accelerating the speed at which storms are moving from the Pacific Northwest and into the Plains states. As a result, the storms are not dropping the usual amount of moisture over the Front Range of Colorado.

While the Front Range area is being spared, other regions are picking up more snow than average at the hands of the La Niña weather pattern. For example, the Midwest is setting up to see substantial snowfall by early next week, potentially complicating travel ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

Departure from Normal

This lack of snow appears even more drastic this year after the record-breaking 2020-2021 snow season. During this stretch, Denver saw an inch of snow on September 8 to kick off the snow. By the time the snow had wrapped for the season in April, over 80 inches had been measured. This marked the highest amount of snowfall in 37 years.

Unfortunately for those ready to see some of the white stuff blanket the city landscape, Denver is looking at a stretch of sunny and moderate weather in the days ahead. This makes it almost a certainty that the November 21 record will fall.

The good news is that there is a chance of snow in the Rocky Mountains over the weekend, giving a helping hand to the ski resort snow-making machines. However, accumulating snow even in the higher terrains will be limited because of warmer than average temperatures.

Looking ahead, meteorologists are warning that it may be the middle of December before Denver sees any accumulating snowfall based on the long-range forecasts.