Denver's top December snowstorms on record

December is historically Denver's third snowiest month which averages 8.1 inches of snowfall.

There have been some noteworthy years for snowfall this month, including the Christmas storm in the early 80s.

Here we take a look at the top storms in December:

#3. 20.7" December 20th to 21st, 2006
This storm was one of the biggest challenges to the city's "new" Denver International Airport and was a catalyst for changes in the airport's operations and procedures.

This storm had a tremendous impact on travelers ahead of Christmas. This wasn't only an airport impact but hundreds of drivers were rescued from metro area roads. Westword best summarized the situation, stating the storm "completely screwed holiday travelers."

Here's a look at the surface map as the storm ramped up on December 20th:

A classic bowling ball cut-off low:

The storm spread more than two feet of snowfall to those near Boulder and the north side of Colorado Springs near Monument.

A foot and a half to two feet of snowfall for those near Longmont, Estes Park, Fort Collins, Golden, and Littleton.

National Weather Service

There are four deaths attributed to the storm and thousands of head of livestock were found dead.

The recovery efforts included the US Military. Shown here, a C-130 dropped hay bales to a herd in southeastern Colorado.

US Air Force, SMS John Rohrer -

#2. 23.8" December 24th, 1982
In another Christmas storm, we have the infamous Christmas Eve storm of '82, which is the 4th largest snow event on record for Denver.

It was another large cutoff low which swung through the Texas/Oklahoma panhandles on the 24th:

The official tally for Denver, then Stapleton Airport, was 23.8 inches. Many other locations had closer to three feet of snow, but with the wind that blew, it was hard to find an accurate non-drift measure for many spots.

The Denver Post has many photos and discussion of the aftermath, including this amazing shot:

The Denver Post

#1. 45.7" December 1-5, 1913
We discussed December's number one snow event in greater detail in its own post because it is also the largest snow event ever recorded in Denver.

Between December 1 and 5, 1913, Denver received 45.7 inches of snow. Even after more than one hundred years, it remains Denver's largest single snowfall event.

Denver was not the only location to experience record snowfall during this four-day event. Georgetown, 50 minutes west of Denver, "took the cake" recording an incredible 86 inches over the same period. Estes Park recorded 53 inches, while Boulder ended up with just a couple inches fewer than Denver at 43.75 inches.

The storm, and a few other snowfall events after, kept at least one inch of snow on the ground for 60 consecutive days, which is 3rd longest in Denver's recorded history.

Source: Denver Public Library.