I’m not being dramatic when we say that this August was the hottest August ever. In fact, August tied 2011 for the hottest August ever with an average temperature of 77-degrees. We know it’s summertime and we are supposed to have hot weather but when you compare the temperature this month compared to the last almost 150 years and you find that this August topped the list, in terms of temperature rankings, there is no doubting that this August was sweltering.
There are 31 days in August and this year, 26 of those days had a high temperature of more than 90-degrees, 17 of those days were above 95-degrees and 7 daily high temperature records were tied or broken. During a typical summer season, Denver will see 31 days of 90-degree-plus heat, so we almost covered that in just one month.
At one point during August, Denver went 17 days straight with 90-degree heat making it the 5th time in our history that we have ever seen a streak of heat last that long. We have seen a staggering 68 days of 90-degree heat this year falling second to 2012 when there were 72 days of 90-degree heat. Which is going to be threatened this year as we could see a few more days of 90s. The average last date of a 90-degree temperature reading in Denver is September 4.
It has also been extremely dry. Denver has only seen 0.35-inches of rain during August. Typically, we will see 1.69-inches of rain during the month. This marks our fifth month in a row of seeing below average precipitation which has led to moderate to severe drought covering all of Colorado currently.
A lack of rain for months in a row, coupled with hot weather and windy conditions led to wildfires sparking up across the state. The Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction has grown into Colorado’s largest wildfire in the state’s history and the smoke that came from the wildfires led to Denver experiencing some of the worst air quality in the world on certain days!
So, should this be expected now? Is Climate Change playing a role in our local weather patterns? Let’s talk about normals. To get the normal temperature for a city, you take a 30-year average to find what is normally expected either on a given day, month or year. The average temperature for August in Denver is 72.5-degrees and that is with data from 1981-2010. Since we are now a decade past 2010, the new normals will be tallied up to come up with a new normal temperature. Doing some rough, unofficial math, our average temperature for the month of August has risen by +0.2-degrees. That doesn’t seem like much but to get any kind of increase like that you have to have more warm days than cool days and that has definitely been the case.
Looking ahead to September, the normal temperature for the entire month drops to 62.4-degrees which means that we will expect more daytime highs in the 70s and more overnight lows in the 40s but the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting normal temperatures with a 40-percent chance of decent below normal precipitation.