Temperature swing rare for season, not for Colorado

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COLORADO SPRINGS– From sweltering to shivering, a cold-front has dropped temperatures in Southern Colorado 50 to 60 degrees in less than a 36-hour window.

Freezing overnight temperatures are not unheard of in Colorado Springs during September and record-lows aren’t foretasted. Still, the drop is dramatic.

“We recently just started meteorological fall, it started September 1, we haven’t even hit the calendar year fall obviously coming up in a few weeks, but it is really rare to see temperatures drop that drastically in September.” said Greg Heavener, a Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Pueblo office.

With summer’s official end still two weeks away, temperature swings are more often seen in December through March, according to Heavener.

During that time of year, temperatures dropping 50 degrees from an incoming storm are more expected and far from the most extreme swings.

“Some of the larger swings that we’ve seen over the records going back to the 1880’s in some places is anywhere from 75 to 85 degree temperature swings so, we’re not quite there yet in historical terms.

The snow, however, is historic. Heavener says the storm is shaping up to be the third earliest accumulating snowfall (of at least 1/10th of an inch) in Colorado Springs since record keeping began in 1880.

Heavener says it’s likely being driven by typhoons and strong storms in the western Pacific Ocean. Those storms have moved the jet stream in a way that’s creating a dry, hot high pressure ridge over the West Coast of the United States. That ridge created a trough of low pressure over Colorado, allowing cold air to sink over the state.

“You know, all of the weather across the globe is interconnected.” Heavener said.

The cold and snow however, likely serves as a red herring for the winter to come. As it stands now in the NWS’s 90-day outlook, Colorado will warmer than normal temperatures and dryer than normal precipitation.

“It all depends too on what the Pacific Ocean does,” Heavener explains, “If we have what is known as a ‘La Niña’ system, with temperatures in the Pacific Ocean right around the equator, tending to be cooler than normal. That tends to lead t a warmer and drier season for much of Colorado.”

Heavener says, the Pacific Ocean pattern will become more clear in the next few weeks.

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