After two balmy days in Cincinnati, I flew back to Denver last evening. As we left Ohio, where the late afternoon temperature was still in the mid seventies (F), a wall of thunderstorms loomed to the west, providing a spectacular light show for those of us in flight. Skirting the storms, we flew southwestward to Louisville, Kentucky, and then WNW, passing over St. Louis and Kansas City on our way to Colorado.
The relatively narrow band of thunderstorms was the leading edge of our first blast of winter, a broad atmospheric trough that ended an unusually warm autumn. The potent storm system dropped a modest amount of snow along the Colorado Front Range but produced blizzard conditions across the Northern Plains. Of more significance, the plunge of polar air announced the arrival of winter, bringing a hard freeze to most of the country and limited relief to some drought-plagued regions. Moving eastward, the system will produce lake-effect snows in the Upper Midwest before moving off the Northeast Coast.
Here in Littleton, where overnight lows dropped into the teens, a slow but steady recovery is expected in the coming days. However, the summer-like warmth is likely over for this year and winter's reign has begun. Fortunately, chinook winds will provide intermittent relief and the intense Colorado sun will soften the effect of winter's grip.