Sep 28, 2023 - News

How Colorado's summer weather looked in 3 maps

Summer 2023 temperature anomalies
Data: NOAA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

Colorado's summer weather is a tale of a great divide.

State of play: The Front Range experienced a cooler and wetter summer, according to new data from NOAA that compared this year to the 30-year average.

Yes, but: In portions of western and southern Colorado, the cold, wet weather from spring transformed into a hot, dry summer.

Why it matters: Temperatures and precipitation are key factors for wildfires, not to mention agriculture, the state's second-largest economic driver.

By the numbers: Denver's average temperature this summer hit 70.8°, about 1.3° cooler than the average between 1991 and 2020.

  • At the same time, average precipitation reached 9.13 inches, about 3.5 inches more than normal. It ranks as the seventh wettest summer on record.
Summer 2023 precipitation anomalies
Data: NOAA; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

The big picture: Numerous states saw a much hotter than average summer. In addition, some spots received unusually heavy precipitation and others entered flash drought territory, Axios' Erin Davis and Andrew Freedman report.

Context: The odds and severity of extreme heat events are rapidly increasing as the climate warms in response to human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • In Denver, 22 of the 91 days — 24% of summer — featured temperatures notably influenced by climate change in 2023, per Climate Central, a research nonprofit.
  • The impact of climate change this summer was more pronounced in Colorado Springs (36%) and Grand Junction (28%).
Where climate change most affected summer temperatures, 2023
Data: Climate Central; Note: A CSI of 3 or higher means human-caused climate change made the average daily temperature at least three times more likely; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

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Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the baseline temperature measurement is the 30-year average between 1991-2020, not 1981-2020.


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