The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, February 26, 2017

While the last few days have felt more like winter than most of the last month, it's hard to believe we're heading into Denver's snowiest month on average given the weather of late. Temperatures month-to-date have been absolutely torching across the country, with the only exception being the Washington and Oregon.

WeatherBell Analytics

Preliminary monthly data shows Denver running an incredible 9.3° above average for the month, with an average temperature of 41.5° so far this month. This places it at number three for all-time warmest Februaries on record, with the potential for slight cooling over the next few days. The city set several daily records as well, and, bested its old record high temperature for the entire month by several degrees back on February 10th.

As for snow? It's probably needless to say, but Denver is running well below average now, with just 19.3" on the season – a far cry from the 35.1" we see on average through the end of February.

While we anticipated a pull back after a relatively cold and active December and early January, we thought February (at least the latter half) would have a bit more winter too it. El Niño hangover? Perhaps. But the cold just never hit and held across the United States this month.

This week we transition into our snowiest month on average, with a "typical" March seeing upwards of 11" of snow in Denver. So, will we transition back into a snowier, more wintry pattern?

The short answer is... it appears not. At least not through the first 10 days or so of the month. We'll see another quick chance for snow this coming week (Tuesday), but then begin a warming pattern once more to start March. Ridging will establish itself across the west to begin the month, which should hold off chances for a significant snowfall across eastern Colorado for awhile.

The week ahead
The cooler weather we've seen over the last several days sticks with us through midweek, with another chance for some light snowfall across eastern Colorado by Tuesday.

Snow will begin in the mountains this evening, with a Winter Storm Warning and Advisories out for much of western Colorado tonight through Tuesday. Snow across the high country will be heavy at times over the next few days, with some areas seeing between 12 and 24" of snow by Wednesday morning.

Across the plains, Monday will be windy but likely stay mostly dry, with our snow chances not arriving until Tuesday and Tuesday night. Tuesday we'll see a chance of snow across most of east-central Colorado, but as of now we're not expecting a lot of accumulation in the cities. Generally speaking, it looks like the Palmer Divide sees the best chance for accumulating snow with this disturbance, with perhaps the best chance being along and east of I-25 across the Palmer. For Denver it'll likely be another hit and miss scenario, with perhaps an inch or two for some, but others little or nothing.

Below is the latest GFS snowfall forecast for the period. Notice pockets of heavier snow for western Colorado, especially south, with an area of 1 - 3" southeast of Denver. The latest EURO has about 1" for Denver, with the Canadian most "bullish" with about 2 - 3" for the Denver area (generally on the south side).

Weather5280 Models

Hard to get too excited about the setup overall, but at the very least it should keep us feeling a bit more like February opposed to June for a few more days, so there's that. We'll see how things look tomorrow, and offer an update as needed regarding snow and timing for the lower elevations.

We'll take a closer look at March in the week ahead. For now plan on quieter weather returning by Wednesday!

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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