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30-year climate averages in Denver updated; Snowiest months for Denver have shifted

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DENVER (KDVR) — NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information released the updated climate normals for the U.S. on May 4. These climate normals are calculated using 30 years of data and are updated at the start of every decade.

The last climate update (before May 4, 2021) was in 2011. The previous 30-year climate normals were calculated over the years of 1981 to 2010. The new update includes the data for 1991 to 2020.

The numbers recorded for Denver climate normals are measured at Denver International Airport (DIA). However, DIA only became the official measuring site for Denver in 2008, which means there is only 14 years of data in that location so far. Prior to DIA, the Stapleton Airport was the official site for the city of Denver dating back to 1950.

The 14 years of data from DIA is not as extensive as a 30-year average and makes the data slightly less of an accurate representation for climate normals simply because there is less data. Keep this in mind when comparing the new snowfall data for DIA to the Stapleton and Wheat Ridge locations that both have 30-year averages dating back to 1991.

DIA is located about 13 miles northeast of the Stapleton Airport and 20 miles northeast of downtown Denver. Wheat Ridge is on the northwest side of Metro Denver closer to the foothills.

When looking at the new monthly snowfall averages at DIA for January through April, trends show less snowfall in mid spring with more snow falling during the winter. Previously, March and April were Denver’s snowiest months.

The new data suggests that less snow is falling in April on average since 2008 and more snow is falling in February in Denver. The old data showed that March was the snowiest month on average in Denver, but the new numbers are showing that February and December could have March beat for average snowfall. We are still waiting for confirmation on the new numbers for average snowfall in December.

To compare the DIA numbers to the new 30-year averages in Stapleton, both locations show a downward trend in April snowfall. However, Stapleton still has March as its snowiest month on average with February close behind.

The data from Wheat Ridge still shows March and April as the snowiest months on average.

It is also worth noting that the latest average temperature trend is warmer than the previous 30 years in Denver.

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