Denver Thanksgiving weather: A smorgasbord of statistics

Late autumn in Colorado usually features a vast variety of weather. One day we can get stuffed with warmth and sunshine, while the next could feature of a three-course meal of cold, snow and wind.

Given this year’s forecast for a relatively tranquil Thanksgiving Day, it seemed like a fun opportunity to look back at what Mother Nature has served up in previous years.

Let’s begin with a short trip back to last year. While snow did not fall on Thanksgiving Day, the holiday was sandwiched in the middle of a very wintry week. More than 8 inches of snow fell on the Mile High City two days earlier, with a snow depth of 7 inches still present on Thanksgiving Day itself.

It was the third highest Thanksgiving snow depth to get observed in Denver in the 148-year period of record. Thanksgiving 2019 was also the coldest since 1993. The morning kicked off at 10 degrees, with temperatures only rising to 23 degrees during the afternoon.

The wintry theme of last year was more the exception than the rule in recent Denver history. In the 2010s, six of the 10 Thanksgivings had high temperatures climb past 50 degrees, with three of those years soaring into the 60s.

There was a lot of hot turkey to go around in 2017, when the mercury rose to a balmy 72 degrees. That came just four days before Denver notched its latest 80 degrees high on record on Nov. 27, and narrowly missed the top spot for Denver’s warmest Thanksgiving. First place is still held by Thanksgiving 1909, when the high temperature reached 73 degrees.

Thankfully none of us had to shiver through the city’s coldest Thanksgiving. That record was set in 1877, when the morning low was a bone-chilling -18 degrees. It was just one of five Thanksgivings when Denver thermometers plunged below zero, with the most recent one being in 1993.

You need to go back to 1928 to find Denver’s snowiest Thanksgiving on record. The city was buffeted by 8.5 inches of snow that day. The snow melted down to nearly a half an inch of liquid, which also made it Denver’s wettest Thanksgiving Day in the history books.

Historically, family gatherings for Thanksgiving have not frequently been disrupted by weather in Denver. Precipitation has only fallen 26 times in the 148-year period of record, with 17 of those 26 occurrences resulting in measurable snow.

This means that the city typically sees a wet Thanksgiving once every six years, and a white Thanksgiving once every nine years.

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