The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, February 28, 2016

What a month February 2016 has been. It'll end wetter and snowier for Denver than average, but also well above normal in the temperature department as well. As of February 28th, Denver (DIA) was averaging 4.4° warmer than normal for the month, with an average monthly temperature of 36.7° to date. Remarkably, this doesn't even land Denver in the top 20 for warmest Februaries on record, the warmest of which occurred in 1950, with an average temperature of 43.7° in the city.

Temperatures nationally were equally warm, with the greatest warm temperature anomalies occurring across the northern Plains, with portions of Montana and North Dakota experiencing averages temperatures some 10°+ (F) above average. The only areas that saw near to below normal temperatures were portions of Utah, Nevada, and Western Colorado, as well as across the southeast and portions of the Mid Atlantic.

Temperature departures from normal, February 2016 | WeatherBell Analytics

Nearly all of Denver's above average snowfall came in the first two days of the month. The city recorded 11.6" of snow this month, with 11.3" of that occurring on February 1st and 2nd. The average February sees about 7.7" of snow in Denver.

The main weather story since then has been the heat. In fact, Denver came within 1° again on Saturday of breaking the all time recorded for the date, recording a high of 72° at 1:00pm Saturday afternoon.

With the exception of some quick hitting systems for the northern mountains, and one nice foothills snow last week, that's been about it this month of weather in Colorado.

The week ahead
This week we start the transition into March, Denver's snowiest month on average. The forecast, however, would fool you on this, as it looks like Denver's snowfall chances remain low through the week.

Related: A return of a more active storm track for March?

There will be a handful of fast-moving systems racing across the state this week, but it appears none of them will really get their act together for any appreciable snowfall. The northern mountains stand the best chance with this pattern in seeing some snow, but east across the Plains the greatest threats may end up being a few gusty days (we've had enough of those right?) and slightly cooler temperatures than we've seen this weekend. Here's the 00z GFS snowfall forecast from last night, showing minimal snowfall across Colorado through Friday:

Weather5280 Models

We'll need to keep an eye on out for something sneaky this week, but overall things look okay weatherwise. We'll have a chance for rain and snow showers Tuesday night into Wednesday, but otherwise highs will hover near 60 (above average), with overnight lows in the low to mid 30s (above average).

Provided nothing comes of this week... our focus then shifts to the second week of March. Here we see a big upper level low carve into the western United States, and eventually track eastward as we get into the 7 - 10th time period. It's the most intriguing looking system we've seen in a long time... but I'll tell you what, there are very few solutions at this point that actually have a meaningful impact (snow-wise) on Colorado. For the most part, with the exception of a few runs here and there, models are taking the main energy too far south for us here in Colorado, that or splits the energy as it moves across the Great Basin. Then there's the issue of if there will be any cold air to work with... a concern for snow lovers that becomes more and more a reality with each day that passes now. Below is a look at the latest Canadian ensemble control run for March 10, and likely our system to watch.

WeatherBell Analytics

So, while it's nice to see models coming around to the idea of a pattern change for the west... So far, our storm is not really showing up. The good news is, for the time being things look to remain active in the west beyond day 10, which at least leaves that door open.

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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