Denver may break its four-year streak of seeing snow before November this year, but a strange and difficult-to-forecast weather pattern is setting in over Colorado that makes extended forecasts difficult to determine.
We’ve had a few chances to see snow in Denver this season already, but none of them have played out. Meanwhile, the mountainous places are experiencing early season snowfall this October after accumulating 1-3 feet of snow at higher altitudes, increasing the number of snowfalls.
Even some areas on the plains, such as on the Cheyenne Ridge north of Ft. Collins, or the Palmer Divide near Monument, or Raton Mesa near Trinidad, have all seen a light dusting of snow this month.
Seasonal Snow Totals in Colorado so far.
Most E.CO has not seen measurable snow, but that could change as November enters the picture.
— Rain or Shine I’m Andy Stein (@AndySteinWx) October 28, 2021
But again, big cities like Ft. Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo have yet to see the first flex fly of the season. In the past four years, Denver has seen its first snow of the season in September or October. The last time Denver saw its first snow in November was in 2016, but it looks like that streak will end this year as the season’s first snow may not officially arrive until the first week of November.
The battling weather system and random pulses of energy will make the first week of November volatile and variable.
Our first in what may be a series of cold fronts will pass through Colorado on Saturday. This drops temperatures in the 40s for the high Sunday afternoon high for the Interstate 25 corridor. The afternoon highs in the 40s haven’t been felt since May, so it’s going to be a chilly Halloween day and night.
Cool air and an additional pulse of energy will be nearby on Sunday afternoon, leading to cloud cover and possibly cold rain and/or snow for the evening, so bundle up when you head out trick-or-treating. A lot of Coloradans know that Halloween is the unofficial time when snow becomes more common in the forecast and this year seems to be lining up well with that idea.
We’re all about transparency!👻 Here are some scary stats for Denver’s Halloween snowfall from 2000-2020. #COwx
Find more Halloween climate science here: https://t.co/v5SDZJuZsh pic.twitter.com/KBKzuMCReK
— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) October 27, 2021
The following week, from Monday to Wednesday (possibly longer) cold north-easterly winds blow, bringing cool and cold air in the afternoon. Small pulses of energy will ride over the main current of the season, either near or north of us, leaving us in a suspicious area of sporadic rainfall for much of the week.
As it stands, a strong enough pulse of energy will begin to move upward sometime between Monday and Wednesday, which will give much of the Front Range a notable chance for snow. Another chance of rain looks likely as we move towards the end of next week, so overall, the forecast pattern looks more active than the first week of November.
A pattern of “near misses” could be a foreshadowing of things to come this winter. With La Nia patterns already in place, storms are more likely to bite us or go missing.
The Northwest and NorCal look wet again as do parts of every region in the US.
However, some southwest, northern plains and upper mid-west look drier than normal.https://t.co/PSK6cCJBRU pic.twitter.com/BS3Lw2dO9C
— NIDIS Drough.gov (@DroughtGov) October 28, 2021
The total rainfall for any given period does not appear high, so a full-blown blizzard does not appear likely, but a more cold, rough, cloudy and sometimes snowy pattern looks favorable for several days into the next week. This wacky weather pattern is subject to change with the setting, but the first week of November looks like it will definitely remind us that winter is fast approaching.
Andy Stein is a freelance meteorologist.