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Denver's 2020 summer heat and drought inching up in record books, with some relief in sight

Cold fronts expected to move into Colorado Friday, early next week
denver wildfire sunset heat wave 90 degree days
Posted at 1:44 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-26 10:58:59-04

Denver hit 90 degrees again before noon Tuesday, making it the 65th day that the airport station has reached 90 degrees – the second-most on record in a single year.

It also marked the 15th day in a row of 90+ degree heat, which is tied for the eighth-longest streak in the record books.

2020 now sits only behind 2012, which had 73 days, in terms of the total number of days on which temperatures reached at least 90 degrees.

The longest consecutive streaks of 90-degree days came in July-August 2012 and 2008, when there were 24 straight days of 90-degree heat.

The heat, combined with wildfire smoke from several large wildfires burning in Colorado and across the West, and the air pollution that already persists in the metro area, has made for a miserable August for most in Denver – with ozone levels exceeding federal health limits this week.

The temperature had hit 95 degrees in Denver as of 1 p.m. Tuesday, setting a new record of 23 days of 90-degree or higher temperatures in August.

Monday’s high temperature of 98 degrees tied a record last set in 2011 – making it the sixth day the city had tied or broken the previous high temperature record for that day.

Denver and Colorado are well behind on precipitation so far this month, and this year, which has exacerbated drought conditions as well.

Denver has so far received just 0.09 inches of precipitation so far this month, compared to the normal average of 1.46 inches by Aug. 25. For the year, Denver has received 6.22 inches of precipitation, compared to the normal 11.13 inches it has usually received by now.

One-hundred percent of the state has been in drought conditions for several weeks, but the lack of moisture and high temperatures has made conditions worse. As of last week, 99% of the state was under moderate drought; 73% was experiencing severe drought, and more than one-quarter of the state was experiencing extreme drought conditions. The drought has led to a rough season in Colorado for dry-land farmers.

And though we will continue to see heat in the 90s through Thursday, the streak of consecutive 90-degree days, and overall heat wave, appears as though it is coming to an end starting Friday.

Temperatures for Denver on Friday are forecast in the low-to-mid 80s, with temperatures this weekend in the upper 80s before dipping back down into the upper 70s and lower 80s to start next week.

The National Weather Service said Tuesday there is a chance for some isolated storms across the state over the next few days, with a better chance of precipitation once the cold front moves through Friday, and when the next front hits early next week.

The drought and high temperatures have led to large wildfires this month that have burned nearly 200,000 acres across the state, which have been fueled by the lack of precipitation, low relative humidity and hot temperatures even in the mountains.

Click here for the latest wildfire updates. Click here for the latest from the Denver7 Weather team and for our 24/7 live weather stream..