More than two centuries of Denver snowfall records were broken as more than a foot of snow clobbered the metro area in just three days.
Sunshine broke through Saturday afternoon as the storm, which began Thursday, moved east, said Jim Kalina, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Boulder.
The previous record for heaviest snowfall in 24 hours in February was 9½ inches, set on Feb. 22, 1909, Kalina said. Friday’s total snowfall of 12½ inches broke the 103-year-old record by 3 inches.
Friday’s snowfall also shattered the 80-year-old record for most snowfall on Feb. 3. The previous record was set in 1932, with 7½ inches of snow. Last week’s three-day storm, which dumped a total of 15.9 inches of snow in Denver, broke the 100-year-old record for most snowfall during a three-day period in February. The previous record was 14.11 inches, set in 1912.
Snowfall totals ranged from 50½ inches in Coal Creek Canyon to 13 inches in Lakewood.
Melody and Robert Peters of Alliance Neb. were on the 16th Street Mall on Saturday enjoying the melting snow.
“When we booked our trip, the forecast said it was going to be 50 degrees,” Robert Peters said.
The couple drove through the storm Friday to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in Denver, where, despite the change in the weather, both were happy to see the snow.
“We love the snow,” Robert Peters said. “If there was 15 inches of snow where we lived, they’d still be digging us out.”
Thursday night, the Denver Department of Public Works deployed a full fleet, including all 126 light plows, to help maintain access to residential streets, said spokeswoman Christine Downs. The program is deployed when more than 12 inches of snow is predicted along with freezing temperatures.
“We don’t believe there were any streets we missed,” Downs said. “Some may have been plowed once or twice and others three or four times, but the real
goal was to keep the access open and avoid those big ruts.”All city plows continued to clear the streets into Saturday night.
Yvonne Gallegous said she watched the forecasts leading up to the storm and was surprised at how easy it was to navigate around Denver on Saturday.
“It was fun to get a snow day, but the weather definitely changed my plans,” said Gallegous, who planned to spend the weekend in Keystone. “Turns out they didn’t get any snow!”
While the storm dropped a record-breaking amount of snow in Denver and along the Front Range, it failed to do the same for much of Colorado’s mountains — where powder-hungry skiers and riders were waiting.
“We were watching the forecast waiting for it, but the system just didn’t seem to make it over the Continental Divide,” said Mistalynn Lee Meyeraan, spokeswoman for Winter Park Resort.
The ski area, like many, received less than 2 inches of snow. Despite the lack of powder, the resort was still busy Saturday morning, Meyeraan said.
Parking lots were full by 10:30 a.m. at Eldora Mountain Resort, where more than 2 feet of new snow welcomed visitors, according to the resort’s website. The resort, which is nestled on the east side of the Continental Divide, extended lift operations to 4:30 p.m.
Echo Mountain, also located on the Front Range, received more than 30 inches of new snow, according to the resort’s snow report.
By Saturday afternoon, the Colorado Department ofTransportation reopened all of the highways closed during the storm, spokeswoman Mindy Crane said.
As crews continue to clear roadways and snow keeps melting, some areas, such as bridges, overpasses and ramps, could still be icy and snowpacked, Crane said.