The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, February 23, 2014

We head into the last week of February still waiting for our first significant snowfall (anything >6 inches) of the season. For the month, Denver has recorded just 2.5 inches of snow, which is well below the normal of 7.5 inches seen in a typical February. As of today, Denver International Airport (DIA) has recorded 24.9 inches of snow, nearly 10 inches shy of normal to end February at 35.3 inches.

As you can see in the chart (right), Denver is following a very similar trajectory to snowfall last season. The difference is a bit more snow this January than last, and a bit less snow this February than last (to date). After a very snowy March and April, DIA finished well above average last season.

The setup for the coming week looks very much like a continuation of the dominant pattern all winter. Yet another shot of arctic air is set to move into the upper midwest and then push east, with above normal temperatures across the southwest. Colorado will be split, with the far eastern plains staying chilly through the period, the urban corridor fluctuating almost on a daily basis, and less cold to the west. Here's what the CFSv2 has in mind for the next 7 days, look familiar?

There will be at least a few chances for snow across northeast Colorado through the next week. All chances look relatively marginal for accumulation at this time, with the best chance potentially taking place during the Tuesday/Wednesday timeframe (although, the GFS only printed half an inch during this period in today's 12z run). We'll continue to monitor snow chances here, but in the meantime plan on weather across the region to be much colder on Tuesday with slightly warmer highs on Monday.

The first week of March then becomes a bit more of a tossup. The CFSv2 keeps the cold largely east of Colorado through the first half of March in its latest runs. The GFS and ECMWF try to bring a colder shot and snow back into the metro for the first week of March, and may have better support here from teleconnections than what the CFS is trying to do. Take a look at this cold shot on the GFS for March 4th. While 30 degrees below normal isn't what it was in January, it's still very cold.

Will there be a storm to accompany a cold start to March? Maybe, but too soon for much speculation there, although the 12z GFS certainly tries.

March is statistically a big snow maker for Denver. Since 1882, March averages 11.5 inches of snow, more than any other month, with the runner up being April with 9.0 inches on average. Last year we saw 23.5 inches and 20.4 inches respectively. We'll continue to watch the setup for this March as we head into the last week of February so stay with Weather5280 for all the latest!

Brendan Heberton

Brendan is founder of Weather5280. He is co-founder of FreshyMap, and develops software for geospatial data analysis and visualization.

Denver, Colorado
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