Here we go. The post I didn’t want to have to write (and hopefully will have to retract by the end of the month).

Denver hasn’t seen any kind of solid precipitation since December 28th, 2019. As of this writing, it’s been 24 days without rain or snow in the Mile High City. What’s going on!?

Well, January is not typically a very snowy month in Denver. With that said, we do average 6.6″ of snow per January. This year, however, just a trace of moisture has been reported. Booooo.

We can blame downsloping winds for that. The mountains have been getting pounded with snow this month because of an active Jet Stream and consistent weak disturbances riding along that atmospheric river flowing above us. But what the Jet Stream does, depending on your location, is vastly differential. The mountains create was is called Topographic Forcing which acts as a ‘squeezing out’ mechanism in the atmosphere. Because the Jet Stream carries moisture with it and since the peak of our mountains sits above 14,000 feet, there is enough change in topography to ring out the atmosphere of the little bit of moisture that makes it to Colorado.

With that said, there is enough of a change from the 14,000-foot mountains to Denver’s West compared to Denver’s well-known elevation of 5,280 feet to create a totally different weather phenomenon.

One of the basic weather lessons you learn in school is that rising air creates clouds most of the time. The inverse of that is that sinking air creates clear skies. Well, when you bring an air particle from 14,000 feet to 5,000 feet, that’s quite the change and definitely qualifies as sinking air. So when we are talking about why we are so dry in Denver recently, it’s because of just that.

When the Jet Stream is pointed at Colorado, Denver, more times than not, sees dry conditions. The pattern that has created such dry conditions for us is just that and that is the way it has been since the end of December.

So, just how dry has it been? Well, let me tell you!

Dry January

As I mentioned before, January is where we normally see 6.6″ of snow but this month, up until the 21st of the month, we have only seen a trace. The last time we have only seen a trace of moisture for this time period was back in 2003 – 17 years ago. 
Denver Rankings Regarding Least Amount Of Snow In January 
The above image shows only two years in the Denver-Stapleton record books where we have seen a trace (T) of snow. Essentially, we are currently tied for the least snowy January on Record currently. 

DRY WINTER (December-February) 

Winter, in meteorological terms, is defined to occur between December 1 and February 28 (or 29 on a leap year, like this year!) So far this winter, Denver has only received 2.8″ of snow and that occurred on December 28th so when we look at winter with comparable totals to this years, we find that this is, in fact, a very dry winter thus far. 
Least Amount of Snow During Denver Winters 
You can see that we are currently holding the #2 spot for the least snowy winters. OBVIOUSLY, we have almost half of the winter left to make up some ground so we will more than likely lose the #2 spot. I’m not complaining. 
So, instead of looking at the whole winter, let’s just look at how we rank for the time we have spent in winter so far – which is 52 days. 
Denver Snow records From 12/1-1/21. 

The image above shows a very similar story. We are currently ranked in the #2 spot for the least snow during this period. 

So, is there any snow coming? 

To be honest, it’s not looking good. There are storm systems that will be running along the Jet Stream but none of them will impact Denver in a precipitous way. In fact, Eastern Colorado sits in a ‘hole’ of no snow through the next 6 days. 
Snow forecast through Monday, January 26th. 

The red dot signals where Denver lays. Snowless. With this shown, is seems all hope is lost for January. HOWEVER, there is one storm that I am keeping my eye on that may impact us from the 27-31…. I won’t go into much detail but if it plays out, it could be good for making up some ground. 

Until then, keep doing your snow dances. They’re needed. 
Rain or shine, 
I’m Andy Stein 

Leave a Reply