2021 Climate Year in Review for Southern Colorado

 

January of 2021 saw several passing weather systems throughout the first half of the month across south central and southeast Colorado. These systems brought cool temperatures and beneficial moisture and snowfall, along with bouts of strong winds and blowing dust to portions of the southeast plains, before warmer and drier conditions returned for the later portion of the month. February started out warm and dry across south central and southeast Colorado before several passing weather systems through the middle and end of the month, brought beneficial moisture and record-breaking cold temperatures to most of the area. Portions of the southeast plains did not see temperatures warm above the freezing mark for 10 consecutive days, with many areas of the plains also setting multiple records for the coldest minimum temperatures in the February 12th through February 16th timeframe. Colorado Springs also set a new lowest maximum temperature of -1 degree on February 14th, making it one of only 18 days on record in which the temperature never got above zero degrees in Colorado Springs

March may have started and ended like a lamb across Colorado, however much of the month roared like a lion, as several weather systems moving across the Rockies brought ample and very beneficial moisture to the region, especially across portions of eastern Colorado, which recorded widespread 1 to 2 inches of precipitation, with local amounts above 3 inches.  Most notably was a storm system that moved across the regional March 13th through March 15th, which brought snowfall of 1 to 3 feet across the Front Range of Colorado and into the southeastern mountains, along with blizzard conditions along and north of the Palmer Divide.

The month of April started out and finished warm and dry across south central and southeast Colorado. Several passing weather systems through the rest of the month provided cooler and more unsettled weather across the region, however, the most abundant precipitation was recorded across the northeast plains of Colorado.

May brought abundant precipitation to much of south central and southeast Colorado, with some areas across southeastern Colorado recording over 6 inches of precipitation throughout the month of May. This abundant precipitation has helped to ease drought conditions across eastern Colorado, with much of the southeast plains deemed drought free on the May 25th, 2021 issuance of the US Drought Monitor.  This abundant precipitation, however, generally missed areas along and west of the Continental Divide, where above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation was the rule through the month of May.

The weather was bipolar across the state of Colorado through June of 2021.  The first half of the month was extremely warm and generally dry across the region, with several high temperature records being set across the state, including June 16th when the temperature topped out at 100 degrees in Colorado Springs. This marks only the 10th time on record in which the temperature reached 100 degrees or greater in Colorado Springs.  The second half of the month was cooler and stormier, as several weather systems and cold fronts moved across the region.

July saw an influx of subtropical moisture across the Rockies, with bouts of the monsoonal moisture bringing periods widespread precipitation to the region, especially areas over and near the higher terrain. These slow moving storms brought copious amounts of precipitation and episodes of flash flooding, especially across the area burn scars. Upper level high pressure across western portions of area through much of the month of August kept more westerly flow in place and limited the amount of subtropical moisture moving into the region. This was especially true for eastern portions of Colorado, where very warm and dry weather, along with smoky and hazy conditions (from Northwestern US wildfires), was the rule for much of month.

 

September was mainly warm and dry across south central and southeast Colorado, save for a few passing weather systems which brought passing showers and thunderstorms, along with brief cool downs to the region.

October followed a similar pattern as previous months with being mainly warm and dry across south central and southeast Colorado, save for a few passing weather systems which brought brief cool downs with passing cold fronts and strong winds, along with some passing showers and some mountain snowfall.

November was another mainly dry and warm month across south central and southeast Colorado, save for a few passing weather systems which brought some mountain snowfall, favoring the northern and central mountains, along with a few showers and brief cool downs with passing cold fronts across the plains.

December started very warm with new record high temperatures being set across south central and southeast Colorado in the first few days of the month. A few strong weather systems moved across the Rockies through the middle and end of the month, bringing abundant snowfall to the higher terrain along and west of the Continental Divide, especially across the southwest mountains where several feet of much needed snowfall was recorded throughout the month of December. Unfortunately, these weather systems did not bring much, if any precipitation, to the drought stricken southeast plains, where strong winds and very warm temperatures throughout the month only exacerbated the current drought situation. This is especially true for the weather system moving across the state on December 15th, which brought widespread damaging winds of 80 to 100 mph to southeast Colorado (strongest recorded gust in KLAA of 107 mph in Lamar) causing widespread tree and powerline damage across the I-25 Corridor through the far southeast plains.

The 2021 average temperature in Pueblo was 54.2 degrees. This is 1.0 degrees above normal and makes 2021 tied with 1977 as the 13th warmest year on record in Pueblo, well behind the warmest years of 1981 and 1956 when the yearly average temperature was 56.5F. Pueblo recorded 15.39 inches of precipitation through 2021. This is 3.37 inches above normal and makes 2021 the 19th wettest year on record in Pueblo. Pueblo tallied 25.2 inches of snow through 2021, which is 3.1 inches below normal.

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