Published May 07, 2013
On April 29, Denver neared its record high for the date when it hit 80 degrees. By the next night, temperatures dove to 38 degrees. A snowstorm dumped 3.2 inches on the city through May 1.
This was not the first extreme jump for Denver this spring. April 7 and 8 brought temperatures in the 70s and 80s before plunging to 22 degrees and receiving almost a foot of snow. Temperatures then warmed into the 60s before more cold and an additional 7 inches of snow moved through for April 15 to the 17. More warm air settled into the city again, before 4 inches of snow accumulated on April 22 and 23.
Denver's location makes it no stranger to weather extremes.
"Springtime can be very volatile on the Front Range of the Rockies," said AccuWeather.com meteorologist Ken Clark.
Clark explained that westerly flows off the Rockies create warmth, but quick-moving cold fronts are able to send temperatures into a dive. Cold fronts from Canada are pushed off the east side of the Rockies and drain into the Denver area.
These drastic swings are common for Denver. Clark said that they will typically get the most snow in the late fall and early winter, then again in mid-spring rather than in the traditionally main winter months. However, despite the usual variations in weather, this year has been more extreme than most.
"It's been about 6.5 degrees below normal since April 1," Clark said. "Some days have been 20 degrees above average, but many others have been 20 degrees below average."
Low temperature records have been set this year on April 9, 10, 16, 22 and May 2. Clark cites an active storm track as the force behind the extremes. Moisture from the southeast is pulled into cold air coming down from Canada, creating conditions for snow.
It's not only snow and cold that Denver needs to look out for. Summer thunderstorms are also very common, and the area has high occurrences of hail.