Denver braces for Xylia

Channel 7’s Mike Nelson talks about the weekend weather.

For 10 days or so, the biggest story in Denver has been the incoming winter storm, now named Xylia. It’s been pretty crazy. I’ve been up to the pharmacy twice this week and the parking lot in front of the supermarket has been absolutely jammed. It looked like the run on toilet paper last spring.

The first I heard about all this was late last week: a forecast of up to 5 feet of snow! That turned out to be for the high county only, and was quickly modified to 4 feet. Still, that would be great for the ski resorts and ultimately would mean more water for the plains. Denver, it seems, may get “only” 2 feet of white stuff.

Meanwhile the media are full of photos from previous heavy storms. Record storms. That we might surpass this time. Or at least make it into the top ten. The biggest one was 45.7 inches in 1913.

Jim Cantore, from the Weather Channel, is in town. Probably only because there’s a possibility of thundersnow. He turns into an excited kid when there’s thundersnow.

The weather people are going bonkers. The general populace is stripping the grocery stores. The snowplows are gassed up and ready to go. The rescue vehicles are standing by. And me? I’ve got plenty of groceries and don’t plan to go out again. I’ll just sit here and watch the show. With considerable bemusement.

First the storm was supposed to arrive tonight, with 3 feet possible. But it slowed down. Now the worst of it isn’t expected until tomorrow night, with maybe 2 feet. The latest maps from the various models seem to think maybe 20 inches in greater Denver and along the foothills. That tapers off as you move northeast from Denver, where I am. It’s quite common for us in Thornton to get 2 inches while the south side of Denver gets 2 feet. In the map below, I’m in the 15″-18″ band. But that’s been changing every day.

Skies today are sullen and there’s no wind. Something is coming. Maybe.

I think it would be more than amusing if, after all this, we only get a few — or no — inches of white stuff.

We shall see. What will be will be.

This model is from late yesterday, I think. But the maps keep changing.

(If you’re just dying to know what it’s doing here in the next few days, check It’s a privately operated but very professional weather station about half a mile south of me, and it has live weather cams showing the neighborhood. I’m in that triangle immediately NNE of Denver, inside the perimeter highway.)

9 thoughts on “Denver braces for Xylia

  1. Thundersnow. I experienced that many years ago. I was still back in Indiana going to Purdue. I was guiding canyoneering/backpack trips for the Sierra Club in the canyons of southern Utah. This was back in the early 90’s. I honestly don’t remember where I was in Colorado, but had been climbing up and up and up, heading to this big monstrous pass. The pass had a very sharp – nearly hairpin – turn in it at the crux. When going up, the sky was full of dark clouds, and I believe it was raining. As soon as I came around that sharp turn, the canyon just dropped straight down on my right, it was snowing heavily, and massive bolts of lightening will flashing down what seemed like feet away. It wasn’t that close, but sure seemed like it.

    I was both terrified and exhilarated at the same time. I didn’t realize that was possible. It was an event I will never forget. Oh, and I was driving an ’86 Mustang, rear-wheel drive, 4-cylinder. I was very experienced in driving in snow having grown up in northern Indiana – but just not on a huge decline down the side of a mountain. I had the car full to the ceiling with backpacking gear and food so had plenty of weight. But it was most definitely slow-going down that side of the pass.

    One of my favorite memories.

    1. Thundersnow is just plain cool. it’s a natural event but uncommon enough to be really exciting if you’re lucky enough to hear it. There were some reports today of people seeing lightning in the snow clouds. I’ve never seen that.

  2. Saw some neighborhood pix. The first day they said the snow was fluffy ( and the German Shepherds frolicked like crazy in the yard)…but then after a cold night it became hard as a rock and slick.
    Really nice to be able to not go out right?
    Glad you got provisions – monks are just nuts these days – not worth it.
    Enjoyed the Plant Lady on Denver ch9. So St Patrick’s day is the traditional Front Range day to plant summer veggies in pots…’cause you know you’ll have to bring them in…

    1. I don’t know what that Plant Lady was talking about. The rule I’ve always heard is don’t plant anything until after Mother’s Day. But yeah, I suppose you can bring pots in if necessary.

      I was out shoveling — very little — yesterday and it was the heaviest snow I’ve ever encountered. Fortunately some neighbors came to help. Couple of women from up the block; none of the men from across the street! Had to do it in layers, a couple of inches at a time. Some reporting station somewhere said Thornton got 22 inches. But it was blowing and drifting a lot and was a lot deeper in places. I had some brown snow plastered to the back fence. Weather people said it was dust from Mexico. Dog wouldn’t leave the deck. Up to 6″ on the deck. She had to posthole when she ventured out today. It was too dense and crusty to plow through.

  3. Thundersnow. We get that often enough here in the Great Lakes, especially in the lake effect snow bands that cut through the SW corner of our lower Peninsula here in Michigan. My God, it is BLINDING to drive in. Blizzards are bad enough but through in random searing white flashes and you become aware of your mortality.

    I used to live in the Denver area and foothills. I LOVE Denver. It’s very ‘Denverness’, ie climate and altitude, does not love me back.

    1. I’ve always loved Colorado but didn’t get to move here until I retired. Yes, the altitude bothers some people, along with the dryness. I lived in upstate NY for a couple of years and experienced lake effect snow. Not my cup of tea!

... and that's my two cents