Denver’s Complex Climate

admin October 26, 2010 0

Although Denver has a semi-arid, continental climate it, like most cities in the United States, has four distinct seasons.  Denver is located on the western edge of the Great Plains and just off the southern Rocky Mountains.  The city and surrounding area’s weather is influenced by the proximity of the Rocky Mountains to the west.  Compared to the plains further east, and to the mountains to the west, the weather can be generally mild but unpredictable.  Prairies of the Great Plains make up Denver’s landscape.

In Denver, the average precipitation is 15.81 inches in a year and the average temperature is 50 degrees F.  Around the middle of October, you can expect your first snowfall, and the last one around the end of April.  On the average, Denver can expect an average of sixty-one inches during the snow season.  According to the National Weather Service, Denver receives over three thousand one hundred hours of sunshine a year with over three hundred days of sunshine a year.

Snowstorms do occur but are short lived in this region because the snow melts quite rapidly.  The snow is usually gone before nightfall.  The mountains to the west of Denver receive large amounts of snow.  In the wintertime in Denver, the average highs are in the mid-forties to the lower-fifties and the lows are in the low-twenties to the teens.  Most people consider the winters in Denver to be cold and dry.  The city is shielded from large amounts of snow due to the effects of the orographic lift that dries out the air passing over the Front Range.  There are warm Chinook winds that occasionally occur as air passing over the mountain heats as it descends.  This makes Denver’s winters milder than areas without these effects.

Spring can bring significant changes as Denver is affected by air masses on all sides.  March is usually Denver’s snowiest month as the Arctic air from the north combines with Pacific storms.  Warm air for the Gulf brings the first thunderstorms.  The continental warm air can bring summer-like dry and warm conditions.  Summer is usually very hot and dry with little precipitation.  The normal day time temperatures are usually in the nineties with some very hot days in the hundreds.  The monsoon in mid-July brings tropical moisture into the city.  During this time, you will often have short, late afternoon thunderstorms that can be severe.

The tropical monsoon flow dies down and the Arctic air begins to approach in the fall.  This Arctic air can combine with the moisture from the Pacific Northwest to bring significant snow.  November is the city’s second snowiest month.  The good thing about living in Denver is the dry air.  It is easier on people with allergies to live here.

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