Skip to content

Advance notice mattered during the 4th greatest storm in Denver’s history


AccuWeather For Business clients benefited from 9 days advance notice for this historic winter storm across the Rockies and Front Range

Key Highlights

Advance notice: AFB clients planned ahead for major operational impacts

Historic Storm: Widespread 18-24” of snow ranks this storm as the 4th biggest in Denver’s history

Halted operations: Ground and air transportation completely shut down for 24+ hours

Blizzard Conditions Cause Major Disruption

March is the snowiest month for Colorado, and this year is no exception with 1-2 feet of snow falling across the densely populated Front Range and over 2 feet of snowfall in the foothills and mountains to the west and northwest. Parts of Wyoming, including Cheyenne, received 2-3 feet of snow with the highest amount clocking in at 52.5 inches at Windy Peak, Wyoming.

Air and ground travel came to a standstill for a significant portion of the weekend, with major highways either completely closed or enforcing commercial vehicle bans. Denver International Airport ceased operations due to blizzard conditions late Sunday and remained closed well into Monday as crews worked to clear runways.


Forecast Verification

The first notice of this event was received by AccuWeather For Business clients on March 4 in our long range Storm Potential Outlook (SPO) product. A portion of the Rockies and High Plains was highlighted for a potential major winter storm late the following week. 

By Monday, March 8, still a full six days before the snow started to fall, a Storm Potential Notice (SPN) had been issued to our clients, calling for 12-24 inches of snow for the foothills and mountains just west of Denver. 

The morning update to this SPN on Wednesday, March 10 included the addition of blizzard conditions to the forecast. “Blizzard conditions will develop Saturday afternoon across portions of the Nebraska Panhandle and northeast Colorado, expanding through the evening and overnight across much of eastern Colorado, western Nebraska, and into southern South Dakota Sunday. Winds up to 40 mph along with heavy snowfall at times will cause blowing and drifting snow and local whiteout conditions.”

Screen Shot 2021-03-16 at 1.09.29 PM

A Regional Transportation District light rail train is stuck at Kalamath Avenue on March 14, 2021 in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

A Blizzard Warning (meaning criteria of ¼ mile visibility and sustained winds of 35mph for over 3 hours would be met) was issued by the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday, March 14 at 12:19pm MDT, which included the area outlined on all AccuWeather products for the previous 4 days. 

Advance Notice Matters

Dynamic storms like this can have a ripple effect and lasting impacts across numerous industries. An early heads-up allows businesses to evaluate and adjust their product placement and supply chain procedures. Taking early action ensures the impacted region has adequate supplies and minimized delays by rerouting shipments, including those containing the COVID-19 vaccine. 

In the healthcare industry, advance notice was critical to enable providers to postpone vaccination clinics and reschedule appointments, ensuring the safety of patients and clinic workers. 

This storm occurred over the weekend, but many remote employees may have found themselves without power or the internet on Monday morning. Incorporating long-range products, as well as location-specific SkyGuard® alerts into your operations is crucial for business continuity.

Key SkyGuard Service Benefits 

  • Site-specific products that offer earlier notice well before disruptive weather hits
  • A team of expert meteorologists watching out for you and your assets, 24/7/365
  • The ability to speak directly with a meteorologist who can help you make the best decisions prior to and/or during an impactful weather event
  • A secure, customized weather portal and mobile companion app with real-time radar, storm reports, and warnings for your location

Partner with us to weather the storm

When weather challenges your team to make rapid decisions, depend on SkyGuard forecasts and warnings to provide you the information necessary to make the best decisions that protect your people and avoid costly shutdowns. Demo SkyGuard today.