Blooming leaves and flowers, warm temperatures and sunny skies. It’s been a beautiful and mild start to March so far for Denver, but it’s also highly unusual during what’s typically the city’s snowiest month.
That might soon be changing.
A potent low delivering big rain and snow to the West Coast is set to move into the lee of the Rockies on Thursday, bringing big changes in temperature, heavy rainfall (possibly some thunderstorms) and, yes, the possibility for some snow for the first time in a long time for Colorado’s snow-starved state capital.
For Denver, it’s been almost a month since the Mile High City’s seen accumulating snowfall, the last time coming on February 23-24, when 1.6″ of snow dotted the city. March is usually Denver’s snowiest month, with 11.4″ falling on average. On March 23rd of last year, 13.1″ of snow fell during a blizzard that all but shut down the city. This March, though, has brought at least eight days of 70°+ readings, including two 80°+ days – way above average for Denver in March, when highs usually top out in the 50s.
Thursday and mainly Friday promise big changes. First, rain arrives Thursday evening – possibly with some embedded thunderstorms, especially east of the city. As cooler air filters in, a change from rain to snow is likely in Denver’s nearby foothills and along the Palmer Divide, south of the city, and possibly in Denver itself. Small, subtle changes in elevation will greatly alter accumulation totals, so keep checking back in for more specific totals as the forecast becomes clearer.
That said, accumulations aren’t expected to be significant at this point in the city and nearby suburbs. However, a cooler and wetter pattern appears to be shaping up beyond this system, potentially setting the stage for a more active end to March and start to April.
While snow may disrupt travel, it will also bring beneficial moisture to rain-starved regions across the West. Denver has only seen 19.3″ of snow so far this season, far below the typical 35-40″ it’s typically at around this point of the season. Moisture could also return to places like Albuquerque, New Mexico, which hasn’t seen any measurable precipitation in over a month, and Kansas City, Missouri, which has seen less than half its typical year-to-date precipitation so far in 2017.
Stay with WeatherNation for the latest on this possible system and a more active pattern across parts of the Midwest and West.
For WeatherNation: Meteorologist Chris Bianchi