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Friday Marks 1-Year Since Bomb Cyclone Broke Dozens Of Weather Records In Colorado

DENVER (CBS4) - It's hard to believe that it has already been a year since a powerful mid-latitude cyclone exploded with record strength over the plains of eastern Colorado. The storm produced blizzard conditions for more than 10 hours and left some places with a foot or more of snow. It even caused problems in the air with a passenger jet experiencing severe turbulence and a near mid-air stall about 100 miles east of Denver.

RELATED: Bomb Cyclone Causes Jet To Almost Stall 37,000 Feet Over Colorado

March Blizzard 2019
Limon (credit: CBS)

The low pressure reached a status called 'bomb cyclone' which isn't common for a storm system over land. Bomb cyclone status is achieved when the barometric pressure in the center of a storm drops by more than 24 millibars within 24 hours.

As the storm gained strength east of Pueblo it set a new record low barometric pressure for the state of Colorado in the town of Lamar. The new record of 970.4 millibars on March 13, 2019 broke the previous state record low of 975.0 millibars, which ironically, was also recorded in Lamar on March 13, but in the year of 1973.

Other new record low barometric pressure readings set during the storm include...

  • La Junta - 971.2 mb (data since 1942)
  • Pueblo - 974.2 mb (data since 1893)
  • Denver Int'l Airport - 979.01 mb (data since 1995)

With such an intense area of low pressure the wind it produced also reached record levels. The highest gust in the state during the bomb cyclone was measured at Colorado Springs when a gust hit 96 mph. That smashed the previous all-time record gust in Colorado Springs which was 80 mph set during a windstorm on January 9, 2017.

Other new all-time wind gust records set during the bomb cyclone include...

  • La Junta - 88 mph (previous record was 86 mph on June 15, 2002)
  • Denver Int'l Airport - 80 mph (a new non-thunderstorm record gust ... the airport's record gust due to a thunderstorm is 97 mph. That happened on June 18, 2013 as a severe thunderstorm producing a tornado passed by.)

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Pueblo believe that wind gusts were probably higher to the east of Colorado Springs but unfortunately there are no weather stations in eastern El Paso County.

March Blizzard 2019
CBS4's Jamie Leary in Limon (credit: CBS)

The storm dropped anywhere from 1-3 feet of snow in the mountains with a whopping 52 inches reported on Wolf Creek Pass. According to the Colorado Climate Center in Fort Collins 44 weather stations broke a daily record for precipitation on either March 13 or 14, 2019. Three weather stations broke daily records on both days.

Just to the east of Denver a weather station 5 miles north-northeast of Byers reported 2.45" of precipitation which set a new record for the highest daily precipitation ever recorded during the month of March. Snow drifts  in the area were anywhere from 5 to 10 feet tall.

Large Drifts In Deer Trail
CBS4 Weather Watcher took a break from digging out after the blizzard on Thursday to show us how large the drifts are on his ranch near Deer Trail.

The storm caused widespread travel problems with numerous road closures, including all major highways in and out of Denver, such as Interstates 76, 70 and 25. Nearly 1,400 flights were cancelled at Denver International Airport with thousands of passengers stranded inside the terminal.

Numerous trees and power poles were blown down with nearly 450,000 people without power at one point. Many school and businesses were closed the day of and after the storm. A Colorado State Trooper was killed northeast of Denver along Interstate 76 while investigating an accident.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo took the time to produce detailed analysis about the historic storm and you can read that by clicking here.

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