By Andy Stein
Special to The Denver Post
In a normal year, Denver will see an average of 43 days of 90-degree heat. That number has been ever- increasing as Front Range summers have been getting warmer and warmer over the years.
When talking about heat in Denver, it’s usually customary to reference the number of 90- and 100-degree heat days to give an idea of where we stand in terms of how hot a season has been.
This year, much like recent years, has provided the Front Range with a huge surplus of days with intense heat. So far, through mid-September, Denver has felt 90-degree heat on 58 days, well above the normal 43 days. Nine out of the top 10 years with the most days of 90-degree heat have happened since 2000.
Denver has felt 100 degree heat for five days this year, which ties the city for third place for the most 100-degree days behind 2012 (13 days) and 2005 (seven days).
Interestingly, before 2000, it was pretty rare to feel 100-degree heat in the city. From 1872 (when weather records began to be collected in Denver) to 2000, Denver averaged zero days of 100-degree heat. It just wasn’t the norm. From 2000 to now, Denver has averaged three days of 100-degree heat per year. A notable upward trend.
Data from ClimateCentral shows that Denver’s average summer temperatures have warmed by 2.6 degrees since 1970 and we experience 17 more days of 95-degree heat per year than the 1970s. This trend of hotter weather is a factor that should be realized when planning for the future. There is simply more hot weather expected now than there was before.
On a national level, the United States just experienced a hotter summer (June-August) than the Dust Bowl of 1936. California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Utah all had their hottest summer on record this year.
Colorado as a whole had its fourth warmest summer on record and Denver ranked third for hottest summers ever with an average temperature of 74.6 degrees.