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From 100s to possible snow: Denver weather will change drastically through Labor Day

nws snow forecast
Posted at 10:55 AM, Sep 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-05 19:41:41-04

DENVER — If you've checked the extended weather forecast for Denver this week, you probably noticed something looked a little out of place, even for Colorado.

A snowflake icon.

Don't blame your phone — it's not a glitch.

On Tuesday, we could see our first snow of the season across the Front Range, one day after Labor Day and after a weekend of triple-digit temperatures that have already broke records.

The change in weather — from highs in the upper 90s and low 100s across northeast Colorado this weekend — will begin Sunday night, when a weak cold front is expected to drop into the Front Range, according to the latest forecast discussion from the National Weather Service.

On Monday, forecasts show, a stronger cold front is expected to push south through Colorado, accompanied by precipitation that will become more widespread through the evening.

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The colder weather and precipitation could lead to snowfall in the mountains and foothills on Monday night and through the day Tuesday. Further east, snow could develop across the Front Range on Tuesday, accumulating on trees, according to the weather service.

Now, a warning: We're still several days away from any chance of snowfall, so there's no guarantees. A change in the storm track, according to the weather service, could result in only rain, not snow, in Denver.

The weather service on Friday was projecting less than an inch of snow in Denver, with the highest amounts — 3-4 inches — in the mountains, from Fairplay up to Estes Park.

The weather should dry out after Tuesday, though temperatures will remain below average.

If it does snow Tuesday in Denver, it won't be a record, but it will be very rare — possibly the second-earliest recorded snowfall in city history.

Denver's earliest snow of the season came Sept. 3, 1961, when a Labor Day storm brought 4.2 inches to Stapleton Airport and dumped nearly a foot in the western suburbs and foothills.

According to the weather service's daily histories, there's no mention of snow on Sept. 4-7.

On Sept. 8, 1962, Denver saw its earliest freeze of the season when temperatures dipped to 31 degrees. But still, no snow.

The next mention of snow is found in the entry for Sept. 12, when snow fell in 1974 and 1989.

A snow on Tuesday would be Denver's earliest in the last decade, by a longshot. Last year's first snow came Oct. 10, and the earliest in the last 10 years was Oct. 5, 2012.

Denver's average first snowfall is Oct. 18.