Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS Denver/Boulder, CO
NOUS45 KBOU 240959
Public Information Statement
National Weather Service Denver/Boulder CO
259 AM MST SAT DEC 24 2016
...Today in metro Denver weather history...
17-24 In 1924...a prolonged cold spell occurred after mild
temperatures during the first half of the month. Most
low temperatures dipped below zero with the coldest
reading of 15 degrees below zero occurring on the 24th.
The high temperature of only 5 degrees on the 18th was
a record low maximum for the date.
18-24 In 1998...a vigorous cold front with north winds gusting as
high as 38 mph at Denver International Airport on the 18th
dropped temperatures from a high of 51 degrees to a low of
just 6 degrees before midnight. The Arctic air mass that
settled over metro Denver produced intermittent light snow
and a week-long protracted cold spell that caused low
temperatures to plunge well below zero for 6 consecutive
nights. The coldest temperature was 19 degrees below zero
on the morning of the 22nd. High temperatures climbed only
into the single digits on 4 consecutive days...from the 19th
through the 22nd. At least 15 people...mostly homeless...
were treated for hypothermia at area hospitals. The bitter
cold weather was responsible...either directly or indirectly...
for at least 5 fatalities. Three of the victims died
directly from exposure. The cold weather also caused
intermittent power outages. Following the cold snap...
thawing water pipes cracked and burst in several homes and
businesses...causing extensive damage. Only one temperature
record was set. The high temperature of only 7 degrees on
the 19th set a record low maximum for the date.
20-25 In 1983...an extremely bitter cold spell occurred. The
temperature remained below zero for 115 hours in Denver...
the longest sub-zero period on record. The mercury dipped
to 21 degrees below zero on the 21st...the coldest recorded
temperature in over 20 years. The cold was accompanied
by winds that plunged chill factors to 50 to 70 degrees
below zero. Two people froze to death in Denver; both
were found outside dead of exposure. Numerous cases of
frostbite were reported. Hundreds of water pipes broke
from the intense cold...water mains and natural gas lines
also fractured...and electricity consumption reached record
levels. Light snow totaling 5.8 inches fell at times...and
holiday traffic was delayed at Stapleton International
Airport for several hours. Eight daily temperature records
were set at the time. The all-time record low maximum
temperature for the month of 8 degrees below zero on the
21st still stands today. Other temperature records still
standing include record low maximum temperatures of 5
degrees below zero on both the 22nd and 23rd and 4 degrees
below zero on the 24th.
22-24 In 2009...A winter storm produced moderate to heavy snow
across parts of the Front Range and adjacent plains. In
the foothills...storm totals included: 11.5 inches near
Eldorado Springs...10 inches...3 miles southeast of
Pinecliffe; 9 inches at Genesee...2 miles southwest of
Golden and Ken Caryl; 8 inches...3 miles west of Jamestown
and White Ranch Open Space; 7 inches...4 miles east-
northeast of Nederland. Across the Urban Corridor and
adjacent plains...storm totals included: 9 inches...2 miles
west of Parker; 8 inches at Watkins; 7 inches...2 miles
west-southwest of Byers...12 miles southwest of Buckley
AFB and 3 miles northeast of Parker. At Denver
International Airport...6.1 inches of snowfall was observed.
23-24 In 1907...winds nearly as strong as a hurricane raked Boulder
and areas north of Denver...killing one person and injuring
others. Property damage was minor.
In 1973...a pre-Christmas blizzard...the second in 5 days...
produced strong winds and dumped heavy snow across metro
Denver. Nearly a foot...11.8 inches...of snow fell at
Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusting
from 30 to 40 mph produced much blowing snow. The strong
winds whipped the snow into 2- to 4-foot drifts...closing
many roads and airports. About 10 thousand people were
stranded at Stapleton International Airport for up to 24
In 1978...wind gusts to 90 mph on the 23rd and 73 mph on the
24th were recorded in Boulder. A townhouse under
construction was severely damaged by the winds. At
Stapleton International Airport...west winds gusted to
37 mph on the 23rd and northwest winds gusted to 35 mph
on the 24th.
In 1987...a snowstorm assured a white Christmas for metro
Denver...where 4 to 8 inches fell. Amounts in the foothills
ranged from 10 to 18 inches. Snowfall totaled 3.9 inches
at Stapleton International Airport...where north winds gusted
to 32 mph on the 23rd.
24 In 1876...the all-time lowest recorded temperature in December...
25 degrees below zero...occurred. The same temperature was
also reached on December 22...1990.
In 1907...west winds were sustained to 43 mph. The chinook
winds warmed the temperature to a high of 58 degrees.
In 1908...west bora winds sustained to 49 mph produced a
high temperature of 42 degrees. A trace of snow fell.
In 1977...wind damaged temporary wooden structures at
construction sites in Denver. Several trees were blown
over...causing damage to houses and cars. Power outages
occurred in northwest Denver. Some chimneys were blown off
a house in the Ken Caryl Ranch area. Wind gusts to 70 mph
were reported in Boulder...and northwest winds gusted to
53 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1982...on Christmas Eve one of the worst blizzards of all
time dumped 24 to 34 inches of snow across metro Denver.
The heaviest official one-day snow amount in the city`s
history...23.6 inches...brought traffic to a stand still and
completely closed Stapleton International Airport on
Christmas day. Boulder received 18 to 24 inches of snow.
Two feet of snow buried Parker and Sedalia to the south of
Denver. Weather conditions during the storm were brutal.
Visibility at Stapleton International Airport was reduced
to 1/4 mile or less for 17 consecutive hours. Sustained
winds of 25 mph or more persisted for 15 consecutive hours.
Gusts over 40 mph were recorded during 12 different hours.
The highest recorded wind gust was 51 mph. The howling
winds blew snow into drifts 4 to 8 feet high...paralyzing
all modes of transportation. All highways leading out
of Denver were closed. Stapleton International Airport
was closed for 33 hours and operated on only a limited
schedule for days afterward. Thousands of travelers
were stranded and failed to reach their destinations
in time for Christmas. Many wayward commuters and
shoppers were forced to take refuge in shopping malls...
which remained open when workers themselves became
stranded. Mall restaurants served food to the refugees.
The storm prevented most people in the area from
spending Christmas day with family and friends. In metro
Denver...three people died as a direct result of the
blizzard: a 60-year-old man died of hypothermia on his
screened in back porch; a 66 year old man froze to death
after falling into a drift a few feet from his home; a 34-
year-old man froze to death just east of Denver after
abandoning his 4-wheel drive vehicle which became stuck in
the snow. With the heavy snow and wind chill temperatures
of 20 to 30 degrees below zero...there were many injuries
from frostbite and falls. Damage from the blizzard was
varied and widespread. A number of roofs collapsed under
the weight of the heavy snow; greenhouses received the
greatest damage when the heavy snow shattered glass roofs...
allowing cold air to freeze the tender plants inside.
Total damage to greenhouses and plants alone was estimated
at 5 million dollars. The strong winds with the storm
damaged many fences and caused numerous power outages.
Last minute Christmas shoppers were literally left out in
the cold and snow...as the storm made travel increasingly
difficult during the day. Merchants lost significant
income from the last shopping day before Christmas.
Overall...businesses lost an estimated 500 million dollars
due to the blizzard. In metro Denver...seven million
dollars were spent for snow removal...three million dollars
in the City of Denver alone. This expenditure did not
prevent a subsequent snow removal controversy. Once the
major streets were made passable...cold late December and
January temperatures prevented much melting. Icy and
snowpacked side streets and parking lots became rutted...
making travel around metro Denver difficult for nearly a
month after the storm. In fact...snow cover of an inch
or more lasted for 48 consecutive days after the storm...
through February 9...1983. This is the third longest
period of snow cover on record in the city. The period
would have been longer...but no significant snow fell
for more than 2 months after the storm.
24-25 In 1891...heavy snowfall of 7.0 inches in downtown Denver
provided a white Christmas. Most of the snow...6.5 inches...
fell on the 24th. Northwest winds were sustained to 30
mph with gusts to 40 mph on the 24th.
In 1894...snow began falling during the evening of the 24th...
ended during the early afternoon of the 25th...and totaled
6.4 inches in downtown Denver. Northwest winds were
sustained to 26 mph with gusts to 30 mph on the 24th. The
maximum snow depth on the ground was 5 inches. The high
temperature was only 18 degrees on the 25th after a low of
In 1980...strong chinook winds of 50 to 60 mph occurred in the
foothills with a wind gust to 90 mph recorded at Wondervu.
West winds gusted to 33 mph at Stapleton International
Airport on the 25th.
In 1997...a relatively rare Christmas snowstorm blanketed
much of northeastern Colorado. Snowfall in and near
the Front Range foothills and south of metro Denver ranged
from 5 to 8 inches. Elsewhere...new snow accumulations were
generally 1 to 3 inches. Snowfall totaled only 1.5 inches
at the site of the former Stapleton International Airport.
North winds gusted to 29 mph at Denver International
Airport on the 24th.
In 2012...a winter-like weather moved into northeast Colorado
on Christmas Eve as an upper level trough and a strong cold
front moved through the region. At Denver International
Airport...2.5 inches of snow fell from Christmas Eve through
Christmas morning. The high temperatures on Christmas Day
only reached 16 degrees...which was the coldest day of the