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Denver sees among warmest, driest Novembers ever as snow-free days pile up

Denver could reach record-high temperatures Wednesday, Thursday
dec 1 2021 denver
Posted at 12:29 PM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 17:18:00-05

Denver had its third-warmest November on record and one of the top 10 driest Novembers on record as the summer-fall drought continues and as the city still awaits its first measurable snow to kick off December.

Denver’s average temperature in November was 46.3 degrees, the third warmest November since 1872 behind 1949 (50.9 degrees) and 1999 (47.2 degrees).

The 0.07 inches of precipitation Denver received in November made it the ninth-driest November on record, tied with 1903. It was the driest November since 2003, when just 0.05 inches of precipitation fell.

Denver’s November average temperature was more than 6 degrees above the average – the sixth straight month Denver has seen above-average mean temperatures and the warmest November in the past 21 years.

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Daily temperature data for 2021 compared to normals and records.

November also marked the sixth straight month of below-average precipitation in Denver. From June through November, Denver International Airport, where the official measurements are made, has received just 1.88 inches of precipitation compared to the 7.31 inches it has averaged over that time period since 2000.

Denver continues to extend its record for the latest-ever first measurable snowfall of the season, which was broken on Nov. 22.

And a snow-free Wednesday will make it 224 days since measurable snow fell in Denver, tied for third all-time with 1889. This year is expected to move into at least the top 2 longest snow-free streaks; if Denver gets through Sunday without snow – as is currently forecast – it would move into second all-time.

Denver would have to make it to the Sunday after – Dec. 12 – without snow to tie the 1887 record of 235 snow-free days.

The 6-10 day outlook from the National Weather Service shows temperatures over that period are expected to be well above normal, and precipitation in the Denver area is forecast to be below normal.

Wednesday’s record high in Denver is 73 degrees and could be tied or broken, as could be Thursday’s record high of 74 degrees since high temperatures are forecast to be in the low 70s both days.

Conditions are expected to stay warm and dry through the weekend before colder temperatures move in next week, along with a chance of snow.

“We will see cooler temperatures, and perhaps, just perhaps, a chance of measurable snow (but still light) in the lower elevations if everything works out,” NWS Boulder forecasters wrote Wednesday. “Mountain areas will see higher chances of a light to moderate snowfall Monday night through Tuesday night.”

The months-long dry and hot weather has moved Denver and much of the metro area back into the severe drought category, according to last week’s data from the U.S. Drought Monitor. All of Colorado is now at least abnormally dry and 88% is experiencing moderate drought or worse.

Drought conditions in Colorado as of Nov. 23, 2021.

That’s compared to all of eastern Colorado being drought-free as of June 3, when the western half of the state was experiencing mostly extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

And statewide, the snowpack is suffering. The overall statewide snowpack was at 56% of its median levels Wednesday going back to 1987, with 1.9 inches of snow-water equivalent. That is close to the minimum for Dec. 1 of 1.1 inches of snow-water equivalent.

Colorado snowpack levels as of Dec. 1, 2021.

The Laramie and North Platte, and Arkansas, basins currently have the highest snowpack levels, at 76% of normal. The South Platte (68%), Upper Colorado Headwaters (65%), Yampa and White (65%) and Gunnison (55%) basins were all between 50% and 70% of normal.

But the San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan, and Upper Rio Grande, basins were both below 40% of normal, at 35% and 36% respectively.

According to the National Weather Service, every area of Colorado saw above-average temperatures in November, with many areas of the state 4-8 degrees above normal for the month.

Denver sees among warmest, driest Novembers ever as snow-free days pile up