It’s been a long-known fact that March and April are Denver’s snowiest months of the season but there’s a new player in town. February is quickly climbing the ranks as one of our snowiest months of the year.
We’ve endured another week of cold, wintry weather and it’s February, so it makes sense for that to happen. With the additional snow we saw this week, the Denver Central Park location picked up a total of 18.7″ of snow this month – the second snowiest February for that location on record. More than double what should normally fall during the month fell.
February 2022 marks the fourth consecutive February with over a foot of snow at the Denver Central Park location. Wrestling through some data, it’s becoming normal for February to produce more snow on average than in April. Additionally, based on the upward trend of snow in February and the downward trend of snow in March, it may not be long before February becomes our snowiest month on average across the Front Range.
In order to get trends in numbers, you should look at more than the last few years of data. Here’s a look at the amount of snow expected on average each month based on the last 30 years of data for Denver/Central Park.
2021 monthly snowfall average in Denver
If we look at what the average snow was for each of these months back in 2010, using data from the 30 years prior (1980-2010), you’ll notice some notable changes in these numbers.
2010 monthly snowfall average in Denver
Let’s go back one more decade to 2000 and see what the monthly averages looked like back then using data from 1970-2000.
2000 monthly snowfall average in Denver
Since the year 2000, February saw a decline in average snow until about 2011. That’s when February started becoming snowier. Now, February averages over 2″ more snow than in 2000. March has seen an overall downward trend in total snow during the month. Similarly, April has seen a stark decline in average snow expected during the month with 3″ of snow less than in 2000.
Going back further to see if this trend continued, I looked at the 1980s averages and for March and April, the trend did continue.
1980 monthly snowfall average in Denver
It’s interesting to look at February because from 1980 to 2011, the trend was for less snow to fall. The amount of snow expected from 1980 to 2010 (a 30-year period) lessened by 3 inches for February. From 2011 to 2022 (an 11-year period), the average snow expected during February increased by 3 inches. A notable and quick trend in the opposite direction.
For March and April, the amount of snow expected during those months has been decreasing since 1980. On average, the trend for March and April snow has decreased close to 1-inch per decade. February has already overtaken April as our second snowiest month of the year. If this trend continues, it won’t be long before February becomes our snowiest month of the year.
Here’s a look at where the rankings stand for our snowiest months in Denver/Central Park based on data from the last 30 years.
Denver’s snowiest months
1) March: 9.6″
2) February: 8.7″
3) December: 6.6″
4) November: 6.3″
5) April: 6.0″
6) January: 5.6″
7) October: 3.7″
8) May: 1.3″
9) September: 0.8″
What may come as a shock to many (it did for me) is that April is actually our fifth snowiest month of the season. What happens in March and April is that we get these big snowstorms that drop huge snow totals sometimes but as it seems, more of that is starting to happen in February and March rather than March and April.
It’s becoming apparent that temperatures are warming more quickly during the Spring months and that leads to less snow. According to data from ClimateCentral, Spring temperatures (March through May) have warmed by about a degree since 1970. We’re also averaging 3-4 days more of above-average temperatures since 1970.
In a changing climate, we can expect more of this. Warming Springs with less snow. With that said, our average precipitation has not changed much during this time so although we’re getting less snow, we’re making up that moisture loss with Spring rains.
Similar trends have been noted at the Denver airport, in Boulder and in Ft. Collins in terms of February snowfall increasing. March and April haven’t shown clear downward trends in Boulder and Ft. Collins like what is seen at the Denver Central Park location.
With all of this said, March is still our snowiest month (for now) in Denver and it is approaching quickly.