DENVER (KDVR) — An arctic cold front arrived in Colorado on Wednesday afternoon, bringing strong wind and an extreme temperature drop that will stick around until the weekend.

The temperature change was drastic. Wednesday’s high in the metro reached a pleasant 50 degrees at the National Weather Service monitoring station at Denver International Airport.

Record-breaking temperature drop

But as the front moved in, bringing strong wind and blowing dust, the temperature plummeted — and fast. NWS recorded a temperature of 42 degrees at 3:53 p.m. Within an hour, the temperature had dropped to 5 degrees.

The NWS said the data is preliminary, but that is the biggest one-hour temperature drop in the airport weather station’s history. The next-closest drop happened on Jan. 27, 2007. Temperatures dropped 35 degrees from 41 degrees to 6 degrees in one hour, according to the NWS.

List of the top 10 biggest temperature drops in an hour at Denver International Airport, ranging from 24-35 degrees and 1996-2022
The biggest one-hour temperature drops at Denver International Airport until preliminary data showed a new record on Dec. 21, 2022. (Credit: National Weather Service)

Subzero temperatures to remain

Even after the big drop on Wednesday, the temperature continued its downward march to subzero levels. Within another hour, the temperature reached 1 degree below zero. And now the subzero temperatures will stick around.

The Pinpoint Weather team is forecasting that temperatures will stay below zero for the next 40 hours, until around 10 a.m. Friday.

That’s not including the wind chill, which had already dropped to 22 below zero by 6 p.m. and was expected to keep dipping. On the Eastern Plains, the wind chill could drop as low as 50 degrees below zero.

Temperatures will still be very cold Friday with a high of 15 degrees, but things begin to warm up for the festivities this weekend.

High temperatures get back above freezing on Saturday. The days will continue to warm through early next week, reaching the mid-50s by Tuesday.