Weather in Colorado is famously wild and 2021 lived up to that reputation. Here’s our list of the top Colorado weather events in 2021 — in no particular order. Which Colorado weather event do you remember the most in 2021?
Smoke plume delivers Denver the world’s worst air quality
Colorado didn’t have an intense fire season like 2020, but fires to the west had a serious effect on air quality. There were more than 120 days of bad air quality in Denver and around Colorado, with smoke so thick it obliterated the view of the mountains. This summer brought such bad air at times that we topped the global list of cities with bad air quality.
One of Denver’s wettest springs on record
The first 5 months of 2021 were great in terms of rain and snow, helped by a huge March snowstorm and a very active monsoon season. At one point this year, Denver had more cloudy days than Seattle and received more precipitation than Miami. The active start to the year brought Denver out of drought and greened up the landscape beautifully as spring ended and summer started.
Hot and dry summer
In an almost literal flip of the switch, Denver and Colorado went from one extreme to the opposite. This summer (June through August) was the third warmest on record, behind 2020 and 2012. The city saw the third most 90-degree days on record and was in the top 5 for driest summers on record. For many east of I-25, the last time appreciable precipitation accumulated happened in June. This heatwave was the start of the still-endless dry period that has led this area of the state back into drought.
Historic March blizzard
March 13-14 will be remembered by many for years to come. That’s thanks to an epic snowstorm that slammed NE Colorado with some of the area’s biggest snowfalls ever recorded. The March blizzard buried Denver in over 27 inches of snow, making it the fourth-biggest snowstorm to ever impact the city. This also led to March being one of the wettest and snowiest March’s in history bringing much of the region out of drought status.
Long-lived and intense heatwave
Winter slowly transitioned to spring in Denver but the transition to summer was ultra-fast. The second week of June brought an intense heatwave when Denver endured record-breaking 100-degree heat several days in a row. Grand Junction recorded its hottest June temperature ever and Colorado Springs had record-breaking triple-digit heat as well. Colorado’s summers have been warming over the years but this year was definitely a bit of a shock with how early and how intense this wave was.
Landspout tornado seen across the Front Range
The landspout tornado that happened in early June was quite the spectacle. A huge, towering column of spinning air was seen by folks up to 70 miles away thanks to a combination of weather conditions making for good viewing conditions. This landspout tornado had to be one of the most widely documented weather occurrences this year.
Monsoon season 2021, the summer of mudslides
Rain, rain and more rain. That was the story for a while this summer as monsoon downpours impacted Colorado in a major way for the first time in years. The summer of 2020 brought devastating wildfires, which created the perfect conditions for mudslides and burn scar flooding. Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon closed multiple times in July due to rock and debris flows that damaged large chunks of the highway. This year, more flash flood warnings were issued in Colorado than any year before.
Latest first snow on record
Denver usually sees the first snow in mid-October. In 2020, Denver and the Front Range had one of its earliest snows on record with measurable snow falling in early September. This year, however, Denver officially recorded the first snow of the season on Dec. 10, the latest date of the first snow by more than two weeks. Only 0.3 of an inch of snow fell on the city so it wasn’t even that exciting. Much of the Front Range had to wait an abnormal amount of time for their first snow as well.
Last breath mega holiday snowstorm(s)
The all-so-important snowpack in Colorado was a little temperamental at the beginning of this water snow season. October delivered great snows that brought snowpack above average but the state saw virtually no snow through November and early December. The snowpack was way below average as the year was coming to an end. Thankfully, a series of storms hit the state delivering several feet of snow around the holidays and bringing snowpack to near or above-average statewide.
Mid-December wind and dust storm across eastern Colorado
An extremely strong storm racing over our area from California blasted the state with intense and damaging winds and stirred up so much dust that roads were shut down at times due to low visibility. Over 100 mph winds hit areas between Denver and Colorado Springs. Tens of thousands of customers were without power because trees and limbs fell.
What weather do you remember most from this year?
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