The possibility of 100-degree temperatures this week in Denver raises the question of how often that happens.
The quick answer: less often than you might think. The number of 100-degree-plus days, however, appears to have been increasing in recent years.
On a long-term basis, Denver averages only one 100-degree day per year, based on official data from the National Weather Service. But, if you look at just the last 30 years, the average doubles to two per year.
Long-term average 100°+ days/year: 1
1990-2019: 2 #COwx pic.twitter.com/ixiy6z2a79
— Chris Bianchi (@BianchiWeather) July 7, 2020
Since 1872, Denver has hit 100 degrees or more twice in a year in only 21 different years. However, in the last 10 years, Denver has hit 100 degrees twice or more in a season five times (2012, 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2019).
The record for most 100-degree days in a year came in the fire-laden summer of 2012, when Denver hit triple digits on 13 different occasions. That’s by far the most 100-degree days in a year, with 2005 in second place with seven days.
Denver’s official all-time record high temperature is 105 degrees, recorded on five separate occasions, most recently in 2018.
There is an important asterisk to all of this data, though: Denver’s official climate station has shifted between downtown, the old Stapleton Airport site and Denver International Airport, representing potentially slightly different temperature patterns due to urbanization and geography. That may be at least a part of the reason for varying 100-degree days in recent years, though long-term global warming is also likely behind the notable uptick.
The bottom line is that it’s still relatively rare to get an 100-degree day in Denver. This week could feature several days of triple-digit heat, with the National Weather Service forecasting highs of 95-degrees-plus at least through Monday, including 101 on Friday.
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