Spring Storm Recap

Our latest spring storm is now well east of the area, bringing snow to Kansas and as far south as Oklahoma City this morning. While some locations did 'bust' low with snowfall from this system, overall (if we did grade our forecasts) I may not give it as bad a grade as some might expect. Snowfall totals from the storm ranged from a few inches to 15 inches, and brought another round of beneficial moisture to the state.

Bitter cold for April
This storm was impressive on many counts. Let's back up to Saturday afternoon when Denver climbed to 72 degrees at Denver International Airport. Twenty four hours later the temperature read 28 degrees with light snow, fog, and a stiff breeze. That's a 44 degree temperature swing in 24 hours, and over 50 degrees difference between Saturday afternoon's high, and Monday morning's low.

Unfortunately for the new buds on the trees, this storm brought with it some very cold temperatures for this time of year. While Denver bottomed out last night several degrees warmer than the record low for the date (19 degrees at last check, with the record low being 15), the Daily Camera is reporting that Boulder high 14 degrees this morning, a record low for the date.

Soaking storm
If you'll recall, we were fairly confident that this storm would bring good moisture,, and even that we'd see snow, but the question mark all week was -- how much snow would actually accumulate? The moisture certainly delivered. Here are the CoCoRaHS 24 hour precipitation reports as of 7am this morning, many locations seeing totals in excess of 0.5" from this storm.

CoCoRaHS precipitation totals

Snowfall totals
If we take a look at snowfall totals from the same report network, we see totals in Denver from 2 to 6 inches. For our forecast we had Denver split for totals going into this storm, with 5 to 8 inches forecast for the south/west/east metro, and 3 to 6 for the northern metro.

The Bust Index was relatively high across the board at a 5 out of 10. The Bust Index is the potential for actual totals to be LOWER than forecast. We left the BI relatively high given several factors: a) warm surface temperatures (it was 70 degrees for several days prior to the snow falling), b) daytime snowfall, as high sun angle this time of year is a snow-eater, and c) storm intensity -- the storm didn't have all the characteristics we look for in a good spring snow.

Decent snowfall totals nonetheless. And if you took our comparison to previous storms to heart, you'd notice totals this time were once again very similar to those systems. Had timing worked out with more of the precipitation coming after dark Sunday, many of these totals would be much higher this morning, especially with the cold temperatures that worked in behind the front.

Snowfall totals Denver

The foothills did even better, with anywhere from a few inches to nearly 13 inches being reported. We had 8 - 12 inches forecast for the Front Range foothills, so generally speaking, not too far off.

We tried to stress that snow would have a hard time sticking with this storm, especially during daylight hours Sunday. We noted that roads would remain mostly wet, and even where 5 to 8 inches of snow fell in Denver there would be melting, before colder temperatures arrived for the second half of the storm. Some were left wanting more, and that's fair. For the snow lovers in the group this storm didn't necessarily over-perform.

A lot of what we try to do here at Weather5280 is explain the uncertainty behind forecasts, and why that uncertainty exists for any given storm. If we fell short on this storm, then we'll try better next time!

More snow in the forecast
Don't put away those jackets just yet. After a cool Monday temperatures will rebound nicely for Tuesday ahead of another cold front and chance for snow Wednesday into Thursday. We'll have more on this later in the day, but expect another chance for accumulating snow for some, and another shot of cold air for eastern Colorado.

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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