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The 5 Most Epic Snow Storms in Colorado’s History

By: K.C. Dermody

Extreme and unpredictable weather is characteristic of Colorado in any season, but it can be particularly rough in winter. The state started recording weather data in 1871 and since then, there have been some seriously impressive snowstorms. Here are five of the most epic snowstorms in the Centennial State’s history.

5. March 2003


The one that many Coloradans still talk about today and remember very well hit on March 17, 2003. Heavy snow fell for three days until a total of 31.8 inches hit Denver, and even more in some towns in the surrounding area – the foothills got as much as 82 inches. Everything basically shut down and a hole was torn in Denver Airport’s white tent. Some people constructed makeshift snow tunnels just to get to their neighbors and used cross-country skis to get to stores that managed to stay open for supplies.
Photo Credit: The Gazette
March 2003 (cont.)
A truck navigates through the snow-covered street as local resident, Carol Lanes, 45, digs her car out the snow on Detroit Street in Denver, Colo., Wednesday, March, 19, 2003.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo
March 2003 (cont.)
Building engineer Robert Rouleau of Denver clears snow in downtown Denver Thursday, March, 20, 2003. Workers trickled back to offices and stores through still-snowy streets and planes began flying again Thursday after Colorado’s worst blizzard in 90 years unloaded up to 7 feet of snow there and in Wyoming.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo

4. Christmas Eve 1982


The 1982 Christmas Eve storm brought 23.2 inches down on Denver, with massive amounts falling across the state, and continuing to fall through Christmas Day. High winds whipped the snow into huge drifts, over homes, streets, cars, highways, and livestock. Most people were safe at home, with lots of schools and businesses closed. Those who had last-minute holiday shopping to do were out of luck, however, stranded for days before being able to go anywhere.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo
Christmas Eve 1982 (cont.)
A road grader clears snow from ramps around the concourses at Stapleton International Airport, where air traffic was halted Christmas Eve and much of Christmas Day because of a blizzard that paralyzed the city. Most airlines chose to cancel all Christmas flight despite efforts to open a runway by dusk.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo
Christmas Eve 1982 (cont.)
Digging Out – A motorist uses a snow shovel to clear snow from under his automobile on Friday in Denver where more than a foot of snow blanketed the city.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo
Christmas Eve 1982 (cont.)
Jeff Hakmen shovels snow from around his stranded four-wheel drive vehicle at his home in Denver on Christmas day 1982. More than two-feet of snow fell on the Denver area on Christmas Eve stranding thousands enroute to visit relative for Christmas.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo
Christmas Eve 1982 (cont.)
Mailman Robert Gallegos delivers mail amidst piles of snow Thursday afternoon in Montbello an eastern suburb of Denver. Although Mr. Gallegos said this was his second day back on the job since “The Blizzard of ’82” hit the Mile High City on Christmas Eve he also remarked that he was between two and three hours behind schedule on his daily route.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo

3. October 1997


Some 15 years later, the Denver International Airport had just opened. It was shiny and new when the snowstorm brought 21.9 inches of snow, and stranded 4,000 passengers. There was no hotel nearby at the time, so travelers were stuck having to sleep wherever they could, in uncomfortable seats or on the floor, using coats and jackets for blankets.
Photo Credit: The Gazette
October 1997 (cont.)
Shannon Mattie digs out her car from a nine-foot-tall snow drift in the 4900 block of Slickrock Drive on Sunday morning Oct. 26, 1997. The neighborhood Sundown at Nor’wood on the city’s northeast side got hit hard by Saturday’s blizzard.
Photo Credit: The Gazette
October 1997 (cont.)
Passersby give motorist Joe Proctor a shove along West Bijou Street in Colorado Springs Saturday morning, October 25, 1997 to help him the last one half block back to his house. Proctor said he had to get to the store but wasn’t able to get past the end of his block.
Photo Credit: The Gazette
October 1997 (cont.)
Twelve-year-old Garrett Brass checks out a Department of Transportation snowplow that remained snowbound on Highway 24 east of Colorado Springs Monday after rolling during Saturday’s blizzard. Highway 24 opened from Colorado Springs to Limon Monday.
Photo Credit: The Gazette

2. November 1946


On November 2, 1946, World War II had just come to an end. The early season storm enveloped the Eastern Plains, with many reporting three feet of snow or more. Denver got 30.4 inches during the second longest snowfall in the city’s history, 70 hours and 46 minutes. The streetcars, of course, couldn’t run, so the only thing that anyone could do was stay inside, or start tossing snowballs.
Photo Credit: AP File Photo

1. December 1913


The biggest blizzard every known to hit Denver came on December 1, 1913, and it still serves as a benchmark for the Mile High City today. While it only lasted a few days, it hit during a time when weather forecasting was in its infancy, with only vague reports about even the following day’s weather. That meant residents were unprepared for the devastating heavy, wet snow that swept over Colorado and other western states. The storm left 45.7 inches of snow in its wake and remains the largest snowstorm every recorded in the city.
Photo Credit: Pioneer’s Museum
December 1913 (cont.)
The blizzard required snow removal by wagon load and the open area in front of the Colorado State Capitol was deemed the best place to dump it.
Photo Credit: Pioneer’s Museum

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