Denver7 | WeatherWeather News


Colorado weather in May: A month of extremes as severe weather season begins in earnest

May's noticeable shift toward warmer temperatures and longer days serves as a preview to the upcoming summer months.
Posted: 10:12 AM, May 01, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-01 13:11:06-04

DENVER — We've made it to May, the month when Colorado's severe weather season begins in earnest.

Throughout the month of May, we often see a lot of extremes around here. We really get a taste of it all, from rain, to snow, to severe storms and tornadoes. We're at the tail end of our snowfall season in town, but up in the mountains several ski resorts remain in operation.

Lets get to some stats. Here's what to expect in May:

May is about 10 degrees warmer than April on average and is Denver’s fifth-warmest month of the year. The month starts out with a normal high of 66 degrees and ends with a normal high of 77 degrees.


The average high temperature is 72 degrees, and the average low temperature is 43 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

We don’t typically see a lot of days above 90 degrees. One is the average number of days Denver gets that hot in May. And dropping below freezing is rare, too. Denver sees about two days on average of a low temperature of 32 degrees or below.

The coldest May in Denver occurred in 1917, when the mean temperature was 48.7 degrees. The warmest May in Denver was in 1934, when the mean temperature was 64.7 degrees.

The National Weather Service's latest forecast is leaning toward a warmer-than-average May for Denver and parts of the Front Range.

If you’re in the mood for some Seattle-like weather, then May is probably the closest Denver will get, as it’s considered the wettest month of the year. The monthly mean for precipitation is 2.12 inches.

download (1).png

The wettest May in Denver history (and wettest month ever) brought 8.57 inches of precipitation in 1876.

And don’t think since the calendar says May we’re free from snow. The month is considered part of Denver’s snow season, which runs from September to May, but it ranks as the least snowy month of that period. Denver sees an average of 1.1 inches of snow in May.

The snowiest May on record occurred in 1889, when 15.5 inches fell during the month.

download (2).png

Let’s talk about severe weather season

Colorado's extreme weather events have made forecasting in the Centennial State challenging at times. From mountain tornadoes to snow in June, Colorado spring weather can get a little tipsy.

And May is the first month of Mother Nature's binge, when warm Gulf moisture will occasionally pick fights with cold fronts, creating periods of instability, thunderstorms, hail and sometimes tornadoes.

The state sees an average of 27 tornadoes during May and June, with June being the busiest month with an average of 17 tornadoes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

There have been more than 2,100 tornado events recorded in Colorado and at least five deaths related to twisters since 1950.

download (3).png

Damaging hail is also a concern in May. Storms can produce hailstones up to the diameter of a fully-grown grapefruit.

In a typical season, which is from mid-April to mid-August, the Front Range sees about three or four catastrophic hailstorms, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Colorado, along with Nebraska and Wyoming, makes up what meteorologists call “hail alley.” The area averages seven to nine hail days per year. Colorado had the second-highest number of hail claims in the US from 2013 to 2015 (182,591), second only to Texas.

Hail over a quarter in diameter — depending on wind speeds — can kill humans, pets or livestock if it strikes in the correct location. One death and numerous injuries have occurred in Colorado as a result of hail.

To view May stats and data fullscreen on your computer or phone click here.