The first snow! You’ve probably heard the buzz around town already of what could be Denver’s first snow of the season happening later next week. Well, I’m here to tell you that that is entirely possible.
The first snow is always exciting for most people. Snow lovers hope for the “big storm” to dump feet of snow while summer lovers are just sitting there hoping it doesn’t get too cold.
Unfortunately, the latter looks very unlikely. According to longer-range weather models like the GFS (Global Forecasting System) and the ECMWF (European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts – or simply, the Euro) are strongly hinting as an anomalously strong cold front to push through the region next week.
First off, let’s look at what the temperatures are going to do because, after all, you can have snow without cold enough temperatures.
The Euro Model Forecast Temps
Notice the red and blues lines through the picture above, those denote the average highs and lows for the next 10 days or so. There are two distinct shots of cold air that are coming. The first, happening this weekend will high temperatures dropping below average and then a second blast of cold air coming by the second half of next week and that one is the one we are watching.
Not only is snow a possibility, enduring a ‘hard freeze,’ or a day/night where temperatures stay at or below 32º for several hours, is probable. That means that you should prepare irrigation systems and plumbing for freezing temperatures. This is going to be the coldest air of the season so it may catch some folks off guard although it is very typical to see our first freeze and snow during the month of October. Our first freeze in Denver typically occurs around October 6, which puts next week’s cold blast within a few days or normal. Denver’s average first snow occurs on October 18 and with this blast coming around the 10-11th, it will be a little early this year but when looking at the last couple of years, it’s not far off. In 2018, our first measurable snow happened on October 6th and in 2017 Denver had its first snow on October 9th. We’re well within the norm here.
One thing to always remember when talking snow, and particularly when talking snow that is a week out, is that there will be changes. That’s a guarantee. We will see how models handle the forecast over the weekend and see if there are any major changes but for now, prepare for some very cold air and the possibility of snow. And for anyone asking, it’s too early to talk specific totals. There’s suggestions that most of the moisture with this storm will stay north of us. There’s also suggestions showing that Denver could see several inches of snow. Again, too early to narrow down specifics. The National Weather Service is calling for “A chance of rain/snow” for next Thursday with overnight temperatures falling below freezing. This is a quote from the NWS forecast discussion concerning next week’s cold: “Both the ECMWF and the GFS show a strong upper-level trough moving into the are, along with much colder air. As a result, could see the first significant snow of the season in the mountains with possibly some snow across northern Colorado along with a hard freeze.” It’s something to watch for sure. Stay tuned.