The latter half of August in the Mile High City is typically one of the more pleasant times of the year as the summer heat fades and temperatures become more moderate. That however has not been the case this year as multiple temperature records have been toppled and we may be on our way to one of the warmest Augusts on record.
With three days remaining in the month, Denver has tied or broken seven warm weather temperature marks so far. These include:
- August 18 – Denver ties the record high temperature for the date of 98°. The mark was last set in 1986.
- August 23 – The high temperature at DIA hits 98°. This ties the record high for the date last set in 2009.
- August 24 – Denver hits 98°. Breaks old record of 97° set in 1936
- August 25 – Denver reaches 99°. Breaks old record of 96° set in 1913. Also marks the latest date in the year that Denver’s temperature reached 99 degrees. Previously the date was August 16.
- August 28 – Denver tops out at 96°. Breaks old record of 94° set in 1969 and previous years
- August 28 – The mercury only drops to 67° over the 24 hour period. This sets a new record high minimum for the date. The previous record was 66° set in 2010 and previous years.
August 2011 on pace to be one of the warmest on record
Perhaps most notably, the overall temperature average for the month of August is on a pace to put the month into the record books as well.
The overall average temperature for the month through Sunday has been 76.9 degrees. This is a whopping 4.1 degrees above normal.
Were the month to end today, that would make August 2011 the warmest on record. There is a chance we could see that happen when the month does actually end on Wednesday however given lower temperatures in the forecast, we may miss the mark.
Nevertheless, it is very likely the month will at least make the list of the top 10 warmest Augusts on record.
Are those records really records?
The weather records do however once again raise the issue of whether or not it is fair to compare these readings with historical ones. Since the National Weather Service moved Denver’s official weather station to Denver International Airport, the city’s climate records have trended much warmer.
The move of 12 miles put the station in a completely different microclimate from the previous locations near Stapleton and downtown. Many now question whether we should be comparing current temperature readings with historical ones.
The recent record-setting temperatures highlight the problem with the station move. Using the National Weather Service station at Denver City Park for comparison, the difference in temperatures is clear.
Of the five high temperature records tied or broken this month, only one would have been a record if measurements were taken at the City Park location. Further, while the monthly average temperature at that location does show a warmer than normal month, the average is more than one degree cooler than recorded at DIA.
One retired National Weather Service meteorologist explained that much of the difference is accounted by DIA’s more eastern location. When the typical afternoon cloud cover and thunderstorms develop in the summer, it can take more than an hour for those conditions to reach DIA. As a result the station gets the benefit of a longer period of daytime heating.
Many high profile meteorologists and weather enthusiasts have long railed against the move of Denver’s official weather station to DIA and these recent records are sure to provide fuel to the fire.
For more on the controversy, see the recommended links below.
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