Today marks a very eventful day in Denver weather history. Over the years there have been many significant weather events on and spanning February 1st. Most notable is a winter storm that hit the area 21 years ago today and lasted six days. The cold and snow caused a 46 car pile-up on I-25, froze pipes, was responsible for the death of a 57 year old woman and caused 18 students to be treated for hypothermia when they rode for two hours in an unheated bus. At one point during the storm the mercury plunged below zero and stayed there for nearly three days straight!
From the National Weather Service:
From the 26th to the 1st:
In 1888…a protracted warm spell lasted a week. Maximum temperatures ranged from 62 degrees on the 29th to an all time record high for the month of 76 degrees on the 27th. Daily record high temperatures of 76…69…and 71 occurred on the 27th…28th…and 30th respectively. Record high minimum temperatures of 47 and 34 occurred on the 26th and 27th.
From the 30th to the 7th:
In 1985…a cold front on the 29th produced a protracted cold spell as arctic air remained entrenched across metro Denver. While the only daily temperature record set was a low maximum reading of 2 degrees on February 3rd…minimum temperatures plunged well below zero on 9 consecutive days. The coldest readings were 15 degrees below zero on January 31st and 14 degrees below zero on February 5th.
From the 31st to the 1st:
In 1963…high winds struck metro Denver. The strong Chinook winds reached 101 mph in Littleton…80 mph in Denver…and 90 mph at rocky flats. Among the hardest hit areas were Boulder where buildings under construction were blown down…porches and roofs blown off buildings…and power lines damaged. Damage totaled 100 thousand dollars in Boulder alone. In other areas…utility lines were damaged and many signs…antennas…and road markers were blown down. At Stapleton Airport…west winds gusted to 44 mph on the 31st and 66 mph on the 1st. The Chinook winds warmed maximum temperatures to 65 degrees on the 31st and to 70 degrees on the 1st.
From the 31st to the 9th:
In 1963…warm weather that began with the strong Chinook winds on the 31st and 1st continued through the 8th. Maximum temperatures through the period ranged from 52 degrees on the 2nd to 76 degrees on the 5th…which was a new record high for that date.
From the 31st to the 12th:
In 1899…a protracted cold spell lasted almost two weeks. Low temperatures plunged below zero on all days but February 9th with a reading of 6 degrees. The coldest low temperature of 22 degrees below zero on February 6th was a record low for the date. Low temperatures of 20 degrees below zero occurred on both February 11th and 12th… But only the 11th remains as the record minimum for the date. High temperature of only 5 degrees below zero on February 11th was a record low maximum for the date. High temperatures climbed to only zero degrees on both February 2nd and 3rd…but were not records. Intermittent light snow or flurries fell during the period. The most snowfall…2.0 inches…occurred on February 2nd.
On the 1st:
In 1904…northwest winds were sustained to 51 mph with gusts to 60 mph. The Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a high of 55 degrees.
In 1907…west winds sustained to 42 mph warmed the temperature to a high of 59 degrees.
In 1932…the temperature rose from a low of 8 degrees at 7:00 am to the high of 58 degrees at 2:30 pm. The biggest jump occurred from 16 degrees at 8:00 am to 42 degrees at 9:10 am.
In 1951…the lowest recorded temperature in February… 25 degrees below zero…occurred. The same temperature was also reached on February 8…1936.
In 1963…west-southwest winds gusted to 66 mph at Stapleton Airport where the strong Chinook winds warmed the temperature to a maximum of 70 degrees.
In 1970…snowfall of 0.3 inch contained only 0.01 inch of melted snow. This was the only measurable snow and precipitation for the month…making it the driest and least snowiest February on record. Snowfall also was only 0.3 inch on February 22-23…1992… Equaling the least snowiest February.
In 1980…high winds occurred in the foothills. Wind gusts to 75 mph were reported at Wondervu. Northwest winds gusted to 32 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1995…a short blast of early morning winds near the foothills produced a gust to 64 mph at rocky flats in northern Jefferson County. Winds gusting to 59 mph in Lakewood downed a few tree branches in residential areas. West winds gusted to 37 mph at Stapleton International Airport where the warm winds kept the temperature from falling below 43 degrees…setting a new record high minimum for the date. The temperature climbed to a non-record high of 63 degrees.
From the 1st to the 2nd:
In 1934…light Chinook winds warmed temperatures to record levels on both days. Record maximum temperatures reached 73 degrees on the 1st and 74 degrees on the 2nd. West winds were sustained to 18 mph on the 1st.
From the 1st to the 3rd:
In 1996…cold arctic air plunged temperatures below zero for more than 35 consecutive hours from late on the 1st until sunrise on the 3rd. The temperature warmed to only 1 degree below zero on the 2nd after a record low of 16 degrees below zero.
From the 1st to the 5th:
In 1985…the most bitter cold spell of the winter season brought sub-zero temperatures to metro Denver. Daily low temperature records were broken at Denver. The usual cold weather problems struck including stalled vehicles…jammed traffic lights…and frozen water and sewer lines. At Stapleton International Airport…the high temperature was only 2 degrees above zero on the 1st…setting a record low maximum for the date. Low temperatures reached 13 below zero on the 1st…12 below on the third… And 14 below on the 5th.
From the 1st to the 6th:
In 1989…one of the century`s worst doses of winter weather ravaged the entire state. Bitterly frigid weather moved into metro Denver on the 1st as snow buried many sections of the state. In metro Denver where 3 to 6 inches of snow fell…blowing snow and resultant poor visibilities caused a 46-car pile-up on I-25 in the middle of the city on the 4th. During the period…2 to 3 hour delays were common at Stapleton International Airport where snowfall from the storm totaled 4.3 inches and northeast winds gusted to 30 mph on the 1st. Intense cold accompanied the storm. Temperatures in Denver stayed below zero continuously for the best part of 3 days (3rd…4th…5th)… For a total of 69 hours. This is the fourth longest sub-zero period on record. Wind chill temperatures reached 50 degrees below zero. The mercury dipped to 24 degrees below zero on the 5th…setting a record for the date. This was the city`s coldest temperature in over 26 years. Low temperatures dipped below zero on 8 consecutive days (2nd-9th). High temperature of 9 degrees below zero on the 4th was a record low maximum for the date…as was the high of 5 degrees on the 5th. Extensive damage occurred when pipes and water lines froze and broke. Thousands of cars failed to start. On the 3rd…a 57-year-old woman died of hypothermia in an Arvada park. Eighteen high school students were treated for hypothermia after a 2-hour ride through Jefferson County in an unheated bus. At least 2 cases of frostbite were reported; there were undoubtedly many more.
From the 1st to the 9th:
In 1883…a protracted cold period occurred when low temperatures dipped below zero for 9 consecutive days. Low temperatures ranged from 22 degrees below zero on the 4th to 2 degrees below zero on the 1st and 6th. High temperatures ranged from 10 below zero on the 3rd to 23 on the 9th. Several temperature records were set that still stand today. Record lows of 18 below and 22 below zero occurred on the 3rd and 4th. Record low maximum readings of 2 below and 10 below zero occurred on the 2nd and 3rd. The high of only 10 below zero on the 3rd is the coldest maximum temperature ever recorded in Denver.