Boulder recorded its first measurable snowfall of the season Tuesday evening through Wednesday morning while Denver has yet to receive its first snowfall, according to the National Weather Service.
Only 0.1 inches of snowfall must be recorded to be considered the first snowfall of the season. Boulder received 0.3 inches of snow earlier this week. Denver is still awaiting its first measurable snowfall and is approaching the record for the last recorded snowfall.
Matt Kelsch, a local meteorologist, said Denver’s last recorded snowfall was Nov. 21, 1934. Boulder’s last snowfall was Nov. 19, 1900, 78 years earlier than records show.
“Records show November 26, 1978, but the observer missed several snowfalls in October of that year,” Kelsch said in a news release.
Kelsch said the late snowfall this season is notable because Colorado had an early snowfall record on Sept. 8 of last year.
Scott Entrekin, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said Boulder’s first snowfall normally occurs around the first week of October, while Denver sees its first snowfall around mid-October.
Entrekin said Colorado will see a few weak systems on Saturday, with a better chance of snow Wednesday through Thursday. Denver will break the record for the last snowfall if the city receives snow on Wednesday.
“We’re still almost a week away, but at least there’s potential,” Entrekin said.
Entrekin said La Niña could be responsible for Colorado’s lack of snowfall and drier season. La Niña is a weather pattern that occurs in the central Pacific Ocean when temperatures are colder than normal. Ocean temperatures affect wave patterns in the atmosphere, and the jet stream moves further north, bringing wet weather to the north of the country and dry weather to the south.
“The weather pattern we had is pretty typical of what we see with La Niña where it’s just a bit dry,” Entrekin said. “It’s usually even drier in the southern part of Colorado than in the north. But generally here on the plains, including Boulder, we usually see slightly below normal snowfall during a La Niña.
La Niña patterns occur every two to three years, Entrekin said. This pattern could last until most of next winter.
Boulder will experience dry weather with a continued warming trend on Friday, Entrekin said. A slight chance of snow showers is possible Saturday evening with colder weather on Sunday. Monday and Tuesday will again see dry and warmer weather. A strong system will come Wednesday evening and Thursday for a chance of snow.
“The best chance is next week to get any type of snowfall here,” Entrekin said.