Hot winter eclipses averages
Denver has been a whopping 9 degrees warmer in March.
Colorado’s mountain snowpack water supply registered healthy Sunday but exceptionally high temperatures in metro Denver over several months — 9 degrees above normal so far in March — rendered the past winter relatively wimpy.
While December and January temperatures dipped a bit below normal, February and March in metro Denver meant enduring temperatures at least 7 degrees higher than the average, according to National Weather Service data. And metro Denver temperatures during the pre-winter month of November also measured above normal.
Even at higher-elevation icy areas, such as Leadville, late winter temps this year in Colorado turned mild. Leadville’s average temperature was 5 degrees warmer than normal in February, 4.7 degrees warmer in March through last Wednesday and 4 degrees warmer in November.
For Denver, weather service meteorologists on Sunday said storms this week could pull down the plus-9 degree March average of 48.7 degrees through Saturday, well above the March norm of 39.7 degrees. However, precipitation doesn’t guarantee lower temperatures, meteorologist Natalie Sullivan said. Denver residents were told they would face temperatures in the 50s and 60s through the week.
“This precipitation will help our fire weather, so there’s less of a chance of fires,” Sullivan said. But for the warmer-than-average temperature, “it just depends on the storms. … It could mean lower temperatures. There will be cloudier skies.”
In February, metro Denver temperatures averaged 7.8 degrees higher than the norm.
January temps in Denver ran seven-tenths of a degree lower than normal, up from 2.2 degrees below normal in December.
In November, metro Denver temps registered 6.8 degrees higher than normal.
For Colorado food producers and urban residents, this is the key time of year for assessing mountain snowpack. Water in mountain snowpack normally peaks in April.
The recent precipitation in the mountains had boosted snowpack in all the major river basins to higher than normal Sunday evening, except for the Yampa River basin west of Steamboat Springs in northwestern Colorado, which held 95 percent of normal snowpack water, according to federal snow survey data.
The South Platte River basin that supplies metro Denver and northeastern Colorado had 103 percent of normal “snow-water equivalent,” the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service data show. The Arkansas River basin held 105 percent of normal snowpack, and the upper Colorado River Basin was at 110 percent of average.