Mike's Weather Blog -- April 2007

April 30, 2007 - April Will End Cooler, Wetter Than Normal

The month of April will end just slightly below average for Denver in terms of the monthly temperature. It will also be well below average for snowfall, with only 0.9 inches recorded.

The average April snowfall is 9.1 inches.

However, the month will end wetter than normal with over 2.60 inches of moisture measured at Denver International Airport. That is nearly an inch above normal, and mostly due to the spring soaker we saw on April 23-24.

There were 3 days during April where it was completely overcast all day, and just one day with 100% of total possible sunshine.

The precipitation number could go up if we see rain from scattered afternoon thunderstorms expected today.

April 27, 2007 - Celebrate Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day around the nation, a time to learn about and celebrate the many benefits we receive from trees. It is also a great day to plant new trees.

Arbor Day dates back to the late 1800s when a man named J. Sterling Morton moved from Michigan to Nebraska.

He was so amazed that there were no trees that he quickly decided to plant trees, shrubs and flowers.

Morton was the editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper, and used that platform to spread the word across Nebraska about agriculture and planting trees.

He encouraged civic organizations to join in the efforts, and this served as the foundation for National Arbor Day.

April 26, 2007 - Streak Of Warm Weather Ahead

After some scattered showers and storms today, conditions will warm up and dry out just in time for the weekend. Highs starting Saturday through early next week will climb into the upper 70s and lower 80s.

It will be a great weekend to hike, do some yard work, or just simply take it easy and relax.

April 25, 2007 - Intense Spring Storm Shifts East

Skies will gradually clear across Colorado on Wednesday and the melting will begin for those that saw snow. There will be plenty of cleaning up to do as many trees took a beating from the storm.

In extreme northeast Colorado, near Holyoke, there will also be cleaning up of a different kind -- damage from a tornado Monday night.

The storm system that caused all the wild weather around the state will create severe storms from Missouri to the Gulf Coast today. Keep that in mind if you have travel plans east, perhaps connecting to flights in Memphis, St. Louis, Houston or Atlanta.

April 24, 2007 - Cold, Damp Tuesday In Store

Severe storms and hail struck eastern Colorado on Monday. Small hail fell across the foothills and western Denver metro area. Large hail was reported near Boulder and Niwot, as well as across northeast Colorado.

Today our attention turns to how much moisture will fall along the Front Range and how much will be in the form of snow.

The potential exists for a few feet of snow to fall in the foothills west of Denver, with several inches possible as low as 5,000 feet Tuesday night.

If the temperatures were to drop low enough for snow in Denver by the noon hour Tuesday, we could be looking at a foot of snow here in the city.

The latest information shows the rain-snow line should stay above 5,000 feet most of the day.

Regardless, there is a lot of moisture coming down, be it rain or snow. It looks like things will remain green at least for another few weeks thanks to this spring storm.

There is extensive weather coverage on the weather page and homepage of TheDenverChannel.com today. Please check it out by clicking the banner at the top left of this page.

April 23, 2007 - Severe Storms Possible Monday

A potent storm system with plenty of cold air aloft will move toward Colorado Monday, bringing with it the chance for severe thunderstorms on the plains and heavy, wet snow for the mountains and foothills.

In between, the Denver area could see a little bit of both.

Afternoon storms on Monday could give way to a rain and snow mix overnight and during the day on Tuesday as snow levels drop between 5,000 and 6,000 feet.

Stay with 7NEWS for the latest.

April 22, 2007 - Celebrate Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Today is a day to take special notice of our beautiful planet, and pledge to make a difference in reducing global warming.

One thing you can do is to change your inefficient incandescent light bulbs. It is part of Project Switch and you can learn more at www.earthday.net on the internet.

Also, be aware of things around your house such as leaving unnecessary lights on or doors and windows ajar. Not only will these eliminate waste, but these actions will save you money on your monthly utility bills.

You can help keep the air we breathe clean by reducing your emissions. Try walking or biking whenever possible, or carpooling.

If you are in the market for a new car, consider a hybrid. There are several models on the road and making a purchase can save you money on your 2007 tax return.

There are other actions you can take that may seem small, but make a huge difference on the big picture. Small things like not letting the water run while you shave or brush your teeth, or sorting your trash and recycling each week, all make a huge impact on our natural resources.

April 20, 2007 - Severe Weather Awareness Week: Lightning, Wildfires

Thunderstorms produce some of the most powerful weather on Earth, including hail, tornadoes and strong winds. One of the most dangerous aspects to a thunderstorm, however, is lightning.

Over the last decade in Colorado, lightning has been the number one killer over all thunderstorm hazards, including flash floods. We average 3 fatalities and 18 injuries each year.

Lightning is also a major cause of forest and rangeland fires in Colorado. These "dry lightning" flashes comes from thunderstorms with little or no rainfall.

TRIVIA: How many cloud to ground (CG) flashes hit the ground each year in Colorado? Nationwide? The answers will amaze you! Read to the end of this blog entry to find out the answer.

Each bolt of lightning contains millions of volts of electricity...enough in fact to supply power to several homes for a month or more! As lightning travels through the air, it heats the surrounding air molecules up to 50 thousand degrees Fahrenheit, creating a shock wave that we hear as thunder.

It can be up to 1" in diameter. It's thought lightning occurs most frequently during the afternoon and evening hours.

Lightning is unpredictable -- sometimes striking an object and leaving another one nearby untouched. Often lightning will hit a tall object like a tree, and then travel down the object, hitting anything in its path.

A good example of this happened in Fort Collins. Lightning struck a tree and traveled down the trunk, through the root system, and into a house...damaging glass inside and injuring a little girl. As the lightning traveled through the root system of the tree it blew up the earth, leaving a trench in the yard.

Most lightning deaths occur outdoors, usually under tall objects such as trees, on hilltops, or in the water.

Did you know lightning can travel up to 20 miles away from a thunderstorm?

In a state like Colorado, where so many residents and visitors are enjoying the beautiful outdoors during thunderstorm season...its good to know the following method of estimating your distance from lightning. We refer to this as the "FLASH TO BANG" technique. To employ -- count the number of seconds from the time you see the lightning, to the time you hear the thunder strike.

Every 5 seconds equals about 1 mile. You should begin to seek shelter if the time between the flash and rumble of thunder is 30 seconds or less. Activities should remain on hold until 30 minutes after the last audible thunder. This is sometimes called the "30/30" rule.

Some additional safety rules follow:

  • Stay off corded telephones (lightning can travel through phone lines trying to ground itself)
  • Unplug sensitive electronics, such as computers
  • Stay away from electrical devices
  • Get out of the bath or shower, lightning can travel through plumbing
  • Get off rivers and lakes and out of pools
  • Always stay away from metal objects as they become excellent conductors of electricity

    The best thing you can do is plan ahead! If you have an outing coming up, watch 7NEWS for the latest forecast information and check TheDenverChannel.com. You can access tools such as our exclusive FutureCast model and My 24/7 Weather.

    Although a thunderstorm can always pop-up from what seems like out of no where, our exclusive FutureCast will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of wind and precipitation chances.

    You can also check our daily forecast discussion and exclusive 7-Day forecast to help you make your plans. And as always, you can call or email the 24/7 Weather Center.

    So let's review some safety rules if a thunderstorm threatens and you are out and about:

  • Seek shelter in a building or an enclosed vehicle with a metal roof (make sure all windows are closed)
  • Never seek shelter under a tree or small group of trees
  • In a heavily forested area, seek shelter in a low spot and away from the taller trees
  • If caught out in the open, do not lie flat on the ground -- instead -- squat low to the ground and clasp your hands around your knees, with your chin to your chest (this makes you the smallest target possible and minimizes your contact with the ground )

    Here in Colorado, every county is prone to CG (cloud to ground) lightning flashes, but 5 counties rank higher than others in terms of yearly strikes.

    In order from the highest, these are Las Animas, El Paso, Elbert, Lincoln, and Rio Blanco. Weld, Pueblo, Park, Mesa, and Moffat Counties rank the 6th through 10th highest.

    As you can see, it's not just one area of Colorado, nor one favored elevation that is at the most risk for CG flashes.

    So have fun outdoors this summer, but plan ahead. Know what the weather will be like nd keep an eye out for building thunderstorms. Learn the safety rules and have a plan of action ready in case you find yourself caught out in the storm.

    TRIVIA ANSWER: Nearly 500,000 in Colorado and approximately 22 million in the USA!

    April 19, 2007 - Severe Weather Awareness Week: Hail, High Winds

    Severe weather week continues with today's topic being hail and thunderstorm winds -- both a big hazard anywhere across Colorado.

    WIND

    Wind is a huge threat in Colorado that may not get the attention of a tornado or flash flood event. Straight-line winds from a thunderstorm can be as strong as a hurricane or tornado, and cause great harm and damage to life and property.

    Another wind threat is the downburst wind. Precipitation in the thunderstorm cools the surrounding air and makes for a pocket of cold air relative to the surrounding environment.

    Cold air is dense and wants to sink. It does so in the form of a downburst. As this air slams into the ground, it then spreads out from the area of impact.

    In extreme cases, speeds can reach 100 MPH! If this happens in an area of 2.5 miles across or less, it's called a microburst. When 2.5 miles across or greater it's called a macroburst.

    These are a huge threat to pilots, and have even been responsible for airline crashes. The best thing to do when thunderstorms approach is to get indoors.

    HAIL

    Hail is formed from water droplets that remain liquid once above the freezing level in the cloud. (this droplet would be referred to as supercooled)

    The turbulence in the cloud makes the droplet move about, growing in size as layers of ice form on the supercooled water droplet. The stronger the updraft in the storm, the longer these stay suspended in the cloud -- and the larger the droplets, now hailstones, grow.

    When the weight overcomes the strength of the updraft, hail falls to Earth. Hailstones can range in size from pea to grapefruit.

    Crops, buildings, cars, animals, and people can all sustain loss from hail.

    The Front Range and adjacent plains of Colorado and Wyoming have a large frequency of hailstorms compared to much of the nation and world, largely in part due to the elevation and topography.

    Hail season in the Front Range begins in March and lasts through October. June is often a peak time for hail events.

    Remember, hail with a diameter of 3/4" or greater meets the criteria for a severe thunderstorm. You should always report large hail to your local law enforcement agency who will relay the report to the National Weather Service.

    This information can be invaluable in the tracking of severe storms, and the issuance of warnings. You are always welcome to send your storm reports to us here in the 24/7 Weather Center in addition.

    When hail is likely, get into sturdy shelter. Hail can fall at incredible speeds, even smaller hail. These "ice missiles" can injure and even kill.

    April 18, 2007 - Severe Weather Awareness Week: Floods

    Severe Weather Awareness week in Colorado continues, and today's topic is about flood and flash floods.

    There is a difference between a flood and a flash flood. A flood is often associated with rivers, and here in Colorado, most often happen due to rapid snowmelt; often in the months of May and June. These can be predicted usually, giving time for citizens to move to higher ground if necessary. Another example of the flood would be back east, either after snowmelt or due to a soggy weather system. Flood waters, say on the Mississippi River, roll down stream, and often citizens can be warned of rising water several days in advance.

    Here in Colorado, we most often deal with the flash flood, which is a dangerous and sudden rise in water along a creek, wash, river, or a dry land area. Flash floods can be caused by ice jams, snowmelt, dam failures, or more commonly here in our state...the slow moving thunderstorm.

    Flash flood season in Colorado runs typically from May through September, with July and August being the peak months. The entire state is prone to flash flood events.

    Something people very often find surprising is how strong of a force fast moving water can be. A swift moving stream of water just several inches deep can carry boulders, automobiles, bridges, and rip trees right out of the ground. So just image what it might do to a human caught in flash flood waters?

    Here is a bit on flood and flash flood watches and warnings if issued for your area.

  • Flash Flood or Flood Watch -- simply go about your plans, but WATCH...and know your plan of action should flooding conditions occur.
  • Flash Flood or Flood Warning -- Either flooding conditions have already been reported, or are imminent. You need to immediately stop what you are doing, assess the situation, and be prepared to evacuate if necessary. If you ever catch yourself in a flooding situation immediately seek higher ground or climb to safety before access is cut off by floodwaters.

    Here are some safety rules to follow during flash flood season.

  • Don't camp or park your vehicle along creeks and washes, especially when threatening conditions are present.
  • If you are near a river or body of water, be aware of the water levels and have a plan for seeking higher ground in place should you need it.
  • Never enter an area that is already flooded. Too many times we've seen people drive into areas that are already flooded. You have no way of knowing if the road is still there, and just how deep the water is. As little as 6" of moving water can carry a car.
  • Remember -- vehicles will float engine down -- and within seconds you can find yourself in extreme danger. Nearly half of all flood fatalities are vehicle related.
  • Be aware that erosion from swift moving water can cause the banks to become unstable. If you are walking along a stream, creek, or river...you could trigger a landslide if the earth has become unstable. Never walk through flowing water on foot if the water level is at or above your knees.
  • Keep children away from high water, storm drains, viaducts, and arroyos.
  • Be especially careful at night, when it may be difficult to see flood dangers.

    There have been numerous Colorado flood events through history. I've highlighted a few for you below.

  • July 9, 1953 (Heavy rain in Montclair and Mayfair areas east of Denver caused over $1 million dollars in damage. 3.9" of rain fell at Lowry AFB, while only a trace fell in north Denver, Lakewood, Golden, and Englewood.)
  • May 9-15, 1957 (Denver and Frederick, 3 killed)
  • June 14-20, 1965 (Flooding in the South Platte and Arkansas River Basins, 21 killed)
  • July 31-August 1, 1976 (Big Thompson Canyon, at least 139 killed)
  • July 9, 1996 (Pueblo, 2 killed)
  • July 12, 1996 (Buffalo Creek)
  • July 28, 1997 (Fort Collins, 5 killed)

    Sadly, those are just a few of the numerous floods documented in Colorado's weather history.

    We can't tell you exactly when to expect a potential flash flood, but we can say for sure there will be another one at some point in Colorado.

    That is why it is so important to study the information above, and have your plan of action for home, work, and all outdoor events.

    Count on the 24/7 Weather Center for all the latest weather information.

    April 17, 2007 - Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornadoes

    It's cool and wet today, down right wintry in the foothills, but the season for tornadoes is here, and now is the time to review safety rules and information.

    The month of May is when severe weather season really gets going here in Colorado, with the peak for tornadoes in June, and the threat lasting through August.

    By far the largest number of tornadoes in Colorado occur east of I-25, and almost 90% happen between 1-9 pm. But it is important to note that they can occur at any hour, and anywhere within the state. Most tornadoes are weak, meaning top wind speeds are 110 MPH or less, with lifespans of less than 10 minutes.

    Here are some safety rules that apply to home, work, school, or outdoors...

  • The safest place to be is in a well-built structure, in the basement, storm cellar or saferoom. If none of these are available where you are, move to the interior of the structure, either in a hallway or small room such as a closet, on the lowest floor.
  • Cover yourself with blankets or get under heavy furniture to protect yourself from flying debris.
  • LEAVE MOBILE HOMES FOR MORE STURDY SHELTER.
  • In places with large, poorly supported roof spans, such as in shopping centers or gymnasiums, seek the designated tornado shelter, often the bathrooms. If there is no time to locate these places, dive under a table or desk to protect yourself as best you can from flying debris.
  • If driving, never seek shelter under an overpass/viaduct. These can be a collection point for debris, and actually cause higher windspeeds. Simply drive away from the tornado at a 90 degree (right) angle. If the tornado is coming too fast for you to safely get away, abandon the vehicle and lie face down in a dry ditch or culvert, as far away from the vehicle as possible. COVER YOUR HEAD.

    Most importantly, stay informed! Watch us here on 7NEWS and check theDENVERchannel.com for the latest forecast details. When severe weather threatens, we'll let you know and keep you as informed as possible between our resources here on the weather page, the weather line, the 24/7 Weather Alert ticker and crawl on your tv screen, and our weathercasts.

    You must be responsible for you own safety. This means knowing the safety rules, developing a plan of action for all locations you might be at each day (i.e. school, work, home) and keeping abreast of the latest forecast information.

    April 16, 2007 - Severe Weather Awareness Week: Watches, Warnings

    It's Severe Weather Awareness week here in Colorado, and today's topic is -- watches and warnings.

    A number of agencies within the National Weather Service are busy at work each day helping you protect life and property when severe weather threatens. One such agency is the Storm Prediction Center located in Norman, Oklahoma.

    The Storm Prediction Center forecasts the chances for severe weather across the United States. They issue severe thunderstorm and tornado watches for areas of potential danger. Another type of watch you will see over the coming few months is a flash flood watch. This means that conditions are right for thunderstorms that will drop heavy amounts of rain over a small area, in a short period of time.

    When any type of watch is issued for your area, it means just that...WATCH! You should go about your normal activities, but have that plan of action in place should severe weather strike. Some good questions to ask yourself would be, "Where will I go at my current location in the event of severe weather?" -- and "How am I going to get local watches and warnings at my current location?"

    Forecasters at your local National Weather Service office will monitor a variety of tools, including satellite and radar, as well as communicating with severe weather spotters, to decide if warnings are needed in a watch area. Should a warning be issued, it is sent out via numerous forms of communication, including to us here at the 24/7 Weather Center. We will then alert you immediately with either a crawl at the bottom of the screen for things like a flash flood or severe thunderstorm warning, or in the event of a tornado warning, with a break into programming.

    A warning means that dangerous weather is occurring or imminent for a particular area. Here are some criteria for various warnings you might be faced with this summer here in Colorado...

  • SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING -- ISSUED FOR WIND GUSTS OF 58 MPH OR GREATER...OR HAIL OF AT LEAST THREE QUARTERS OF AN INCH IN DIAMETER.
  • TORNADO WARNING -- ISSUED WHEN TORNADOES ARE IMMINENT OR OCCURRING.
  • FLASH FLOOD WARNING -- ISSUED FOR RAPIDLY DEVELOPING LIFE THREATENING FLOODING.

    When a watch or warning of any kind is issued for Colorado, you can find the information right here on TheDenverChannel.com by clicking on our Watches and Warnings page, in the blue navigation menu on the left side of the weather page.

    You might want to bookmark this page for easy access in the future. Periodically refresh the page when viewing just to make sure you have the most current data displayed.

    We'll also run the crawl at the bottom of your screen periodically when watches are in effect for our area, to keep you ahead of the storm. As flash flood or severe thunderstorm warnings come into the 24/7 Weather Center from the National Weather Service, we will immediately run our crawl to alert you. Tornado warnings will also run on the crawler, and if within our viewing area, programming will be briefly interrupted to warn you of the storm.

    If you are away from your television and computer, remember our weather line at 303-832-0247 and our radio partners -- AM 1430, KEZW, The Mountain, 99.5 FM, KOSI 101.1 FM, ALICE 105.9 FM, K99 FM and AM 1310 KFKA.

    Another good item to own is a NOAA Weather Radio. These can run off battery or electricity and are great for when outdoors or if the power goes out.

    Be weatherwise this summer and don't get caught off guard. Know your resources for getting watch and warning information, what they mean, and what your plan of action for each will be.

    The 24/7 Weather Center will be here working day and night to help keep you ahead of the storm. If you have any questions or need more information, don't hesitate to contact us at 303-832-0291 or email weather@TheDenverChannel.com anytime.

    Tomorrow's safety topic will be about tornadoes.

    April 14, 2007 - Nice Colorado Weekend In Store

    Sunny skies and mild temperatures are expected both Saturday and Sunday, perfect weather for outdoor plans. The storm system that grazed by Colorado on Friday will cause some severe weather across the Gulf Coast states today.

    Our next chance for cloudy, cooler weather will arrive by Tuesday of the coming week.

    April 13, 2007 - Storm Moves South, Still Drops Some Moisture

    Our spring storm made a slight jog to the south Thursday evening, taking the heaviest band of snow with it. However, the Front Range will still receive some much needed moisture in the form of light snow.

    The weekend will clear up and warm up, with a new storm approaching early next week.

    Stay with 7NEWS and TheDenverChannelc.om for the latest.

    April 12, 2007 - One-Two Punch In Store For Colorado

    Two storm systems will move across Colorado over the next 5 days. Each one is showing the potential to bring significant precipitation to the state.

    The first storm will move in Thursday night with widespread rain and snow, turning to all snow during the overnight hours on the eastern plains.

    We have extended web coverage under the weather news section on the main weather page of TheDenverChannel.com today. Just scroll up to the top of this page and click on weather.

    Conditions will clear over the weekend and warm up. We should see a lot of melting take place Saturday and Sunday. Then conditions will decline once again as we head through the day on Monday as a second spring storm enters the region.

    Stay with 7NEWS for all your news and weather information -- we'll keep you ahead of the storm. Be sure to watch 7NEWS at 5 a.m. Friday morning for the latest information on traffic and closures.

    April 11, 2007 - Snow, Cold, Wind In Minnesota

    A storm system over the upper-midwest is spreading wintry weather across the eastern Dakotas, Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan and southern Wisconsin today.

    The heaviest snow was expected to fall over southwestern Minnesota with up to 10 inches possible.

    Despite the low clouds and snow, as of 9 am Wednesday, traffic at the Minneapolis airport was on time. However, delays were growing by the hour in Chicago due to the weather.

    That could have a ripple affect in Denver, especially on United and American, both of which have hubs at O'Hare airport.

    April 10, 2007 - Did You Hear Thunder Monday Night?

    The first thunderstorms of the season moved through parts of the metro area Monday night. Residents of southeast Aurora saw a few cloud-to-ground lightning strikes during a light show just before midnight.

    The storms didn't produce much rain, but the thunder and lightning were enough to wake you up if you are a light sleeper.

    It's all part of a spring weather pattern taking over the state this week. More thunderstorms are possible during the afternoon on Wednesday ahead of an approaching cold front.

    April 9, 2007 - Easter '07 One To Remember

    No matter where you were in the nation this past Easter weekend, the weather likely made it memorable.

    West of the Rocky Mountains, warm and dry weather made for near perfect celebrations. In Salt Lake City, skies were sunny with temperatures in the 60s and 70s.

    East of the Rocky Mountains, it was a different story. It felt more like January.

    Dozens of new record lows were set from Kansas and Missouri to Georgia. Freezing temperatures were felt all the way to the Gulf Coast.

    On Saturday, snow fell across the hill country of Texas. In Dallas, it was only the fifth time since weather records began that snow has been recorded during the month of April.

    April 5, 2007 - Chilly Temps Grip Nation

    It will be a cool, almost cold weekend from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. A dip in the jet stream is allowing cold air from Canada to spill into the eastern two-thirds of the country.

    In fact, it will bring a killing frost and freeze to many locations south of the Mason-Dixon line.

    April 4, 2007 - Unsettled Weather To End Week

    The week will end on the unsettled side as a few weather fronts affect the state. Scattered rain and snow showers will be in the forecast Thursday night through early Sunday morning.

    We could even see a few thunderstorms during the day on Thursday.

    Easter Sunday does not look like a washout at this time, but there could be a few morning sprinkles or flurries along with low clouds.

    Stay with 7NEWS for the latest on the timing of these weather systems.

    April 2, 2007 - March 2007 Finishes In Top Ten

    March 2007 was in the top ten warmest ever recorded for Denver; the month finished in 8th position.

    It was on track to end in the top 5 warmest until the below normal weather that hit during the last 3 days of the month lowered the average temperature.

    The temperature spread for Denver last month ranged from a high of 75 degrees to a low of 14 degrees.

    Both precipitation and snow were below normal last month. The former Stapleton Airport reported 6.1 inches of snow and the International Airport reported 0.57 inches of precipitation.

    Although dry, neither total was low enough to get into the top 10 driest or least snowiest.

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