COLORADO, USA — Autumn can be a pretty snowy place in Colorado, like it was last year with Boulder ranking among the snowiest cities in America by Christmas. Often times, most of the top 10 are composed of towns in our state.
But fall 2020 has not been normal as a shift in the weather pattern has brought in some towns that are not normally on any snow-ranking list.
Last fall there was record snow on parts of the Front Range.
But Denver saw half of its full year's snow total fall before the winter solstice. This fall, Denver has received more than a foot less snow than 2019. Since moving the city's official snow gauge to Denver International Airport in 2005, there has been an average of 18.1 inches of fall snow.
Last year, Boulder got nearly 60 of its record-breaking 152 inches in the fall. This year, there has been more than two feet less snow. That gauge averages 27.9 inches of fall snow.
At the end of fall in 2019, Boulder was ranked in the top 10 snowiest cities in America, but not this year.
A massive storm hit the northeastern United States just before the winter solstice dropping up to 44 inches of snow in some areas. That really shook up the rankings.
Using towns that have a National Weather Service COOP station and a population of at least a thousand, also excluding Alaska, Baudette, Minnesota is in the top spot this year, and Boulder with just 30.4 inches doesn’t even make the top-25 this time around.
Out of the Colorado towns that are on the list, the city closest to the Front Range, Winter Park, is down about 8 inches compared to last fall while Ouray and Crested Butte are about the same as last season.
If you count Alaska, Haines would be No. 1 on the list with 117.8 inches of fall snow. Valdez (62.6") and Ester (39.8") would also make the list. Calumet, Michigan got 46.8" of fall snow, but its 2019 census lists the town with a population of 999. They should probably make this list but a spreadsheet parameter of 1000 will split those hairs precisely.
The reason for this shift is likely the La Nina weather pattern. Even though Colorado's climatology is upside down with more snow in the south than the north, the country as a whole is experiencing a classic La Nina: dry in the southwest, cold and snowy in the north, and wet in the northeast.
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