The State of the Atmosphere: Sunday, December 29th, 2019

Well, thank goodness for yesterday's snow. Denver came close to a snow-free December, something that hasn't happened in the city in over 100 years.

Instead, Denver International Airport picked up 2.8" of snow, bringing the season-to-date total to 29.0" for Denver. The average to end December is 22.5", so our above average snow season continues, even after a mostly lackluster December.

Our station picked up 2.75" of snow on Saturday, bringing our season to date total to 44.5", and a good representation of the east/west spread in snow totals from Denver's western suburbs to DIA so far this season.

Despite technically a good forecast for Denver (we had a Trace to 4" for the city, 2.8" will be the official total), overall our forecast left a lot to be desired. It wasn't a fun storm to pin down as we documented, and had plenty of potential to play funny games, which it did.

The Eastern Plains were a huge miss, as only low-end totals were realized in most locations. The Denver metro area also did a bit better than we thought, with our T - 4" for Denver north and 2 - 6" for Denver south across the Palmer not holding up in all cases. Denver's immediate suburbs to the north saw some 4 and 5" totals, and a few areas on Denver's south and southwest side saw 6 - 8" of snow. Furthermore, areas northeast of Fort Collins ended up with some deep snow as well, of which we thought would end up a bit further southeast than it did. Here's a look at the interpolated snowfall totals over the last 48 hours:

The week ahead
The next system to impact the state will move through on New Year's Day.

We'll keep a close eye on this one, but at this time it looks like the main impacts will be felt across the northern and central mountains, and only scattered rain and snow showers across Eastern Colorado from Wednesday into Thursday.

Here's a look a the GFS snowfall outlook for the week. A few spotty snow showers across the plains Wednesday and Wednesday night could bring a quick coating of snow... but most of the snow is forecast to stay in the mountains:

Probabilities for 1" of snow or more through Friday are negligible for Eastern Colorado, with good probabilities for the northern mountains:

For 3" of snow or more the probabilities are as follows:

For temperatures, look for highs in the 30s on Monday across Northeast Colorado, warming into the 40s Tuesday to near 50 degrees on New Year's Day. Thursday will be a bit cooler behind Wednesday's front, but still should manage the low to mid 40s in Denver unless something changes as we head into the work week.

For New Year's Eve celebrations, we expect most of the state to be dry. Snow will develop early Wednesday morning across the northern mountains, before some of those showers move over the plains New Year's Day. Temperatures Tuesday evening will be in the single digits and teens for the high country, and 20s and 30s across the Plains. Denver will be in the upper 20s early in the evening, with an overnight low of 22°F forecast for Tuesday night.

We'll keep an eye on the midweek system, and offer updates as needed. Unless we touch base before then, we wish you all a very Happy New Year, and thank you for another wonderful year of tracking the weather across our great state and beyond. If you haven't had a chance, take a few minutes to look back at some of the big weather and climate stories of the last decade across Colorado. The National Weather Service in Boulder has also been doing a count down of weather over the last decade which is worth checking out.

Happy New Year!

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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