While Denver and Boulder have the best ski resorts, how much snow does it really get in Colorado? Read on to find out! Typical snowfall in Colorado varies greatly from year to year, but the state does have a mild winter climate. While snow is scarce on higher mountain peaks, it is common to see a fair amount of snow in the lower elevations. A typical spring scene in the Rocky Mountain National Park is a picture of quiet rivers and cool daytime temperatures.
Steamboat’s snow is among the driest in North America
The lightest powder in North America is found in Steamboat Springs. A local rancher coined the phrase Champagne Powder before the ski area opened. He walked across the terrain that was to become the ski area and said the snow glistened like champagne. Today, the term is trademarked by Steamboat Ski & Resort Corporation. The Colorado town has an average snow content of six percent, which is much lower than the 15 percent found in other destinations.
In terms of precipitation, Steamboat Springs receives just 22 inches per year. In fact, it’s one of the driest places in the United States. Steamboat has an average of fifteen-four inches of snow per year, with only 21.6 inches of rain falling on the town each year. However, the low rainfall can make the area uncomfortable for some people. It can cause dry skin and itchy eyes.
The snow forecast in the Banff Area is for light accumulation Sunday-Monday. The Marmot Basin, Fernie, and Sunshine Village will all see light accumulations. Meanwhile, the rest of the Intermountain West will experience a relatively dry stretch of snow until Tuesday. While the West stays dry, the rest of the region is more active, so there’s a better chance of snow for skiing in the coming days.
Crested Butte’s snow is among the driest in North America
The average annual rainfall in Crested Butte is approximately 2.4 inches, and the city receives a relatively mild climate. The climate in Crested Butte varies considerably from season to season, but there are two distinct seasons in the city. The windiest month in Crested Butte is April, with winds averaging 6.9 miles per hour. In contrast, the calmest month is August, with an average wind speed of 4.4 miles per hour.
The snow in Crested Butte is remarkably variable, with significant seasonal variation. A sliding 31-day period containing at least 1.0 inch of snow is considered a “wet” month. The snowiest month in Crested Butte is December, with an average snowfall of 8.2 inches. The driest month in Crested Butte is June, with an average temperature of 45degF.
As the snow dries, the resort offers wide-open green trails and expert bowls for beginners and experts alike. If you’re not quite ready to venture out on your own, you can also take a free backcountry tour led by a CB Backcountry Guide. Those looking for a scenic drive should head to Crested Butte, which is about 45 minutes from Gunnison International Airport. If you’re arriving from Denver, however, you should check the snow report before you leave. It is expected to snow again tomorrow and into the next day.
Winter in Crested Butte averages more than 90 inches of snow, with the snowpack reaching 300 inches in Wolf Creek. Even in well-above average seasons, the expert terrain will be covered by Christmas. Even then, you’ll likely be lucky to find some deep powder by Christmas time. This year, the average snowfall in Crested Butte is the fourth lowest in North America.
Denver’s snowfall averages
If you’re new to the area and want to know how much snow the city gets each year, you should know what the winter season looks like in Denver. Snowfall averages have been available in the city for many years. Snowfall records began in 1882, and the city has used three primary locations for official observations: downtown Denver, Stapleton Airport (now Central Park), and Denver International Airport (DIA).
Snowfall in Denver can be a bit erratic, but a city of more than a million people is hardly a bleak snowscape. According to Richard Wagner, a professor of meteorology at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, the city sees its first snowfall in mid-October, and it’s clear by late April. However, there is a chance that the city may get snow despite a warmer climate.
The five biggest snowstorm in Denver occurred in April 1885, when it received 23 inches in less than a day. Interestingly, the snowiest April in Denver was 1938, when the city received 33.8 inches. Snowfall in Denver is largely a result of classic upslope storms. These storms develop when low-pressure systems form over the Great Plains and push moist air up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Once the snow begins to fall, the low-pressure system has dissolved, and the rest of the air is able to cool to temperatures below freezing.
The wettest month in Denver is May. The driest is January. There are approximately eighteen wet days in Denver each year, and only a handful of days with less than 0.04 inches of precipitation. The drier season, however, lasts for 6.6 months from September 7 to April 1. In addition to snowfall averages, Denver has a humid continental climate with more moderate weather.
Upslope storms can wreak havoc on the eastern slope of the Front Range
During winter, upslope storms aren’t uncommon in the Front Range. As the jet stream slants into the state, a low-pressure system parks itself in southeast Colorado, pulling precipitation from the Gulf of Mexico and tossing it up into the Front Range. These storms occur about once every one to five years and are responsible for late-season peak snowpack numbers. These storms aren’t all bad, however. In 1921, Silver Lake, Colorado, was hit by a 24-inch snowfall.
Upslope storms can create blizzard conditions in the Front Range if certain atmospheric conditions are right for this kind of storm. In addition to a low pressure system in the south, an upslope storm can also occur when the easterly winds of a high pressure system in the north combine with a low pressure system. Both systems can produce an upslope setup, but the high pressure air is dryer, and this results in minor accumulations in the Front Range.
On the eastern side of the Front Range, the snowfall amounts for tomorrow’s storms are not known, but they are likely to fall into the teen range in Larimer County. A low-level upslope continues into the overnight hours, and surface winds will push snow westward. However, temperatures will be very cold and snowfall will be light.
Upslope storms can wreack havoc on the eastern slope of the Front. Typically, these storms occur around April 25 in the South Platte River Water Basin, which covers the eastern slope of the Front Range north of the Palmer Divide. In some cases, large connected patches of snow will remain through June. These storms are usually accompanied by strong winds and gusty gusts.
Snowfall in the foothills and plains
A significant snow event is expected to cover the Northern Plains on Wednesday, with a chance of accumulations as high as 24 inches on Floyd Hill in the foothills west of Denver, east of the continental divide. While rainfall amounts across the foothills are minimal, the Palmer Divide and the plains should still see a lot of precipitation, albeit at a less-than-heavy rate.
The Central High Plains and the Front Range of the Rockies frequently experience heavy spring snows. However, such storms can also affect the eastern foothills and their adjacent urban corridor. The heavy spring snowfall that occurred in the foothills and plains in April was attributed to a slow-moving upper-level low-pressure system that brought up-slope moisture from the southern United States.
The northern Front Range foothills of Colorado hit the jackpot when snow fell late Sunday. While a 40-inch snowfall may seem light in comparison to the 60 to 80-inch snowfall in 2003, the total remains substantial. During the snowfall, it is essential to protect outdoor plants, avoid parking beneath tree branches, and be aware of ice and other hazardous conditions. For the best snowfall, be sure to charge up your cell phone and make sure it’s fully charged.
The climate of the foothills and plains of Colorado is very similar to that of Utah. There are no major mountain ranges to separate the two, but the climate is similar across the two regions. Rocky Mountain ranges provide the greatest amount of precipitation and temperature variations, whereas the plains remain relatively stable. If you’re considering a trip to Colorado this winter, don’t forget to check the weather forecast.