Denver weather: First snow is late, but some looks to be on the way

Denver this year could snap its four-year streak of seeing snow before November, but a strange and hard-to-predict weather pattern is setting up over Colorado making the extended forecast difficult to determine.

We’ve had a couple of chances of seeing snow in Denver already this season but none of them have played out. Meanwhile, mountain locations have been getting slammed with early-season snows boosting snowpack numbers after 1-3 feet of snow has accumulated at higher elevations this October.

Even some areas on the Plains, like on the Cheyenne Ridge north of Ft. Collins, or the Palmer Divide near Monument, or the Raton Mesa near Trinidad, have all seen a light dusting of snow this month.

But again, the big cities like Ft. Collins, Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo have yet to see the first flakes fly of the season. In the last four years, Denver has seen its first snow of the season occur in either September or October. The last time Denver saw its first snow in November was back in 2016 but it’s looking like that streak will end this year as the first snow of the season might not officially occur until the first week of November.

Battling weather systems and random pulses of energy will make the first week of November unsettled and changeable.

Our first of what could be a series of cold fronts will push through Colorado on Saturday. This drops temperatures into the 40s for afternoon highs on Sunday for much of the Interstate 25 corridor. Afternoon highs in the 40s haven’t been felt since May so it’s going to be a cold Halloween day and night.

An additional pulse of cold air and energy will be nearby on Sunday afternoon leading to cloud cover and possibly a cold rain and/or snow falling for the evening so bundle up as you head out trick-or-treating. A lot of Coloradans know that Halloween is the unofficial time when snow becomes more common in the forecast and this year seems to be lining up nicely with that thought.

Next week, cool northerly winds prevail from Monday to Wednesday (possibly longer) leading to cold and breezy afternoons. Small pulses of energy will be riding the main flow of weather, which will be near or to the north of us, leaving us in the questionable zone of sporadic precipitation for much of the week.

As it stands, a strong enough pulse of energy looks to move overhead sometime between Monday and Wednesday, which will bring much of the Front Range a notable chance for snow. Another chance of precipitation looks probable as we head toward the end of next week so overall, the forecast pattern does look more active than not for the first week of November.

A pattern of “near misses” may be a foreshadow of things to come this winter. With a La Niña pattern already in place, the possibility of storms clipping us or missing us is greater.

Total precipitation doesn’t look high for any given period so a full-blown snowstorm does not look likely but a more cold, raw, cloudy and snowy-at-times pattern looks favored for several days next week. This is subject to change with the wacky weather pattern setting up, but the first week of November looks like it will definitely remind us that winter is coming fast.

Andy Stein is a freelance meteorologist.

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