Hot win­ter eclipses av­er­ages

Den­ver has been a whop­ping 9 de­grees warmer in March.

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Bruce Fin­ley

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.

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