87-year-old snow record could be shattered without a flake falling

Snow shovels are gathering dust in Denver as the city has yet to measure any snow since the spring, and AccuWeather meteorologists say that it could be weeks before the next chance for significant accumulation in the Mile High City, meaning that Denver is poised to shatter its all-time record for the latest first measurable snow. The latest date on which Denver has recorded snowfall was all the way back on Nov. 21, 1934.

April 21 was the last time that snow accumulated in Denver, and for a brief moment this week, it looked like the snowless streak was about to come to an end.

"There was a band [of snow] that impacted downtown Denver this morning which produced some flakes," AccuWeather Meteorologist Joseph Bauer said on Wednesday. While flurries filled the air on Wednesday morning, when all was said and done, the official weather observations from Denver International Airport concluded that not enough fell to be considered measurable snow.

Typically, Denver measures its first snow of the new snow season around Oct. 18.

To be considered measurable snow, at least 0.1 of an inch needs to accumulate. If some snow falls but does not accumulate up to 0.1 of an inch, it is officially considered by meteorologists to be a "trace" of snow.

A trace of snow was reported at Denver International Airport on Oct. 15 and again on the first two days of November, but so far, the 2021-2022 snow season stands at 0 inches for Colorado's capital city.

The lack of snowfall in Denver this season could be related to a meteorological phenomenon occurring thousands of miles away in the Pacific Ocean.

This is significantly different from the 2020-2021 snow season, which was one of the snowiest on record for Denver, partly due to early-season snowfall. Last year, an inch of snow fell on Sept. 8, one of the earliest accumulating snowfalls in the city's history. By the end of the season, more than 80 inches of snow had fallen, the highest total in 37 years.

With a stretch of mostly sunny and warmer weather ahead, the Nov. 21, 1934, record is in jeopardy.

"It's looking like the record will be broken," Bauer said.


Bauer explained that there is the chance of some snow showers in the Colorado Rockies west of Denver over the weekend, but with high temperatures in the 50s F, "the odds of them seeing any accumulating snowfall are very small at this point."

After this weekend, prospects for snow look bleak until December.

"Denver may have to wait until the second or third week of December for any measurable snow in the city based on what we are seeing," said AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.

If this forecast comes to fruition, it would shatter the previous record by weeks.

According to Pastelok, La Niña could be to blame for this snowless pattern.

La Niña is a phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean in which water temperatures near the equator are lower than average. This can shape the jet stream and the track that storm systems take when they traverse North America.

The current La Niña-influenced weather pattern is causing storms to move at a rapid pace from the Northwest through the Plains.

"The storms seem to get wrung out in the Northwest and then pick up moisture in the eastern Plains and Midwest," Pastelok explained. This leaves the Front Range high and dry with little opportunities for any rain or snow around Denver.

Meanwhile, the pattern is sending the snow elsewhere. AccuWeather meteorologists say there will be opportunities for snow across the Midwest in the coming days, which could disrupt travel ahead of Thanksgiving.

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