From The Denver Post (Andy Stein):
Denver used to average about five days of 95-degree heat prior to the 1970s; now it’s more than 20 days
At its core, climate change is simply a change in the usual weather that a location experiences over time — the 80218 zip code in Denver, the state of Colorado, the contiguous United States or the entire planet. Thanks to modern technologies and weather tracking systems, scientists are able to visualize the changes in our weather and climate on every scale.
There are numerous reasons for that climate change (NASA’s Climate Change page is a great resource), spanning from the Earth’s distance from the sun to humans burning coal, oil and gas, the gases from which “cause the air to heat up.”
A large chunk of the United States has seen a warming trend in annual temperature (comparing the climate normals from this decade to decades past), most notably in the Western U.S., areas around the Great Lakes, the Northeast and Florida — so, almost everywhere…
The U.S. meteorological summer season, which runs from June 1-Aug. 31, has warmed by at least 2.0 degrees since 1970, according to Climate Central, an independent organization that surveys and conducts scientific research on climate change.
In Denver and Colorado Springs, the summer season has warmed by 2.6 degrees since 1970 — higher than the national average. Grand Junction’s average summer temperature is up by 1 degree, smaller but still notable.
Higher average temperatures increase the number of extreme heat days. Denver used to average about five days of 95-degree heat prior to the 1970s; now it’s more than 20 days. Colorado Springs used to experience 11 days of 90-degree heat in 1970, now the city feels 30 days of intense heat per season. Grand Junction saw an average of four days of 100-degree heat in 1970 and now that number has increased to nine days.
On average, Grand Junction experiences higher temperatures throughout the year because it’s a dry, arid desert climate, so temperature and precipitation extremes are more difficult to reach.
But as we’ve seen as of late, temperatures have had no trouble reaching dangerous levels several times this year already (don’t forget the record-shattering heat wave we experienced before the peak summer heat even set in)…
Summer nights are typically where Colorado cities balance out the daily temperature average due to the fact that they cool off efficiently in normally dry air. But data is showing that even our nighttime temperatures are rising.
In Denver, the average nighttime temperature has risen by 1.8 degrees since 1970; it’s 1.7 degrees warmer in Colorado Springs and 0.3 degrees warmer at night in Grand Junction on average.