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Record-breaking cold grips Denver metro area

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DENVER — The temperature plunged to minus-15 degrees Saturday night at Denver International Airport, breaking a 107-year-old record for the coldest temperature on the date.

The reading was recorded at the National Weather Service’s official reporting station for the city at 7:14 p.m. The previous record low for Dec. 17 was minus-13 degrees in 1909.

It was also the coldest high temperature for Dec. 17, breaking a 132-year-old record. The high was only 3 degrees, breaking the previous record for the coldest high temperature for the date of 7 degrees in 1884.

Some residents in metro Denver received more snow by the time the snowfall ended Saturday than they expected. Denver International Airport said it had about 9 inches on the ground by Saturday afternoon, resulting in hundreds of flight cancellations.

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The National Weather Service warned Denver would see near record-low temperatures well below zero by early Sunday morning.

Snowplows were out in full force around the metro area. Travel was slow as main roads were snowpacked and icy in spots. Side streets were covered by several inches of snow.

The mountains received heavy snow Friday night and Saturday. Resorts such as Keystone reported 17 inches of snow by Saturday morning.

Factors combined to create some extreme avalanche danger Saturday.  Upside-down snowfall, 70-100 mph winds above treeline, an unusually unstable base layer, then 1-2 feet of new accumulation made the danger level five out of five Saturday.

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