May 1 Heavy Snow

Posted May 1, 2008

Category: Weather

This morning the Denver area had heavy snow. This snow had the biggest flakes and greatest intensity of any snow I have seen all year. There was no accumulation though since the ground temperature is very warm. Yesterday the high temperatures got into the 80s. It was amazing to see it snow so hard yet it could not accumulate. It started to accumulate in the grass during the heaviest of the heavy snow but it melted away quickly once the snow rate slackened. This afternoon there has been a rain-snow mix

Below are some good size flakes coming down but melting on the warm ground.

Denver has an elevation of about 5,280 feet. Where I am in Brighton, CO the elevation is about 5,000 feet. The south side of Denver and going south of Denver the elevation increases to over 6,000 feet as the top of the Palmer Divide is approached. The Palmer Divide is a ridge in central Colorado and the highest elevations of the ridge are located between Denver and Colorado Springs. You can see the effect this has on the precipitation type on the radar image below from the afternoon hours. Where I am on the north side of Denver has rain. Denver is on rain-snow line. South of Denver where the elevation is higher has snow falling. The elevation also increases going west from Denver since that is where the famous Rocky Mountains are. Within 30 minutes of this radar image (2:45 pm) the rain changed over to heavy snow where I am!! It has got to be one of the heaviest snow bursts I have ever seen. The snow was coming down crazy time! An inch even accumulated in just 15 minutes despite the warm soil temperature.

I want to show a documentation of the incredible weather changes that can occur within a day in Denver. The data below is the hourly observations from the National Weather Service. Toward the bottom the 3:53 pm (15:53) April 30th observation has a temperature of 81 F with a dewpoint of 2 F. The sunny skies, southerly winds and dry air help contribute to the warm temperatures. Just 23 hours later looking at the 2:53 pm (14:53) May 1st observation at the top, heavy snow is falling with a temperature of 33 F. Pretty wild change isn't it? From 81 F to heavy snow in 23 hours!