Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Denver’s Warm December Start Didn’t Last

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Through the 20th of December, Denver Colorado’s average temperature measured 7.1°F warmer than average.  I told a friend at the time that a monumental shift in weather would have to take place in order for the final month’s tally to approach normal (31.2°F).  Well, we got that shift.  7 of the next 11 nights would record lows below 10°F, with the month’s lowest low recorded on the 26th of December (-2°F).  7 of the next 11 days would record highs below 32°F.  We started the month on a very different note (Slide 8): four of the first five days saw highs at or above 60°F!

This 2-week period of below-average temperatures was the first such event since February 2012.  Every other month this year was characterized by above-average temperatures.

The precipitation deficit continued through December.  Denver finished 2012 with 10.11″ of liquid equivalent precipitation, which is 4.19″ below normal.


Denver’s 2012 climate summary is as follows:

Highest temperature: 105°F (June 25 & 26), which tied daily, monthly, and all-time temperature values.

Lowest temperature: -6°F (January 11)

Average maximum temperature: 68.4°F (+3.7°F above normal)

Average minimum temperature: 39.3°F  (+3.0°F above normal)

Mean temperature: 53.9°F (+3.4°F above normal)

73 days above 90°F (33 more than normal; almost double the normal number of 40 days)

19 days with max below 32°F (1 fewer than normal)

132 days with min below 32°F (25 fewer than normal)

Total precipitation: 10.11″ (4.19″ below normal)

Snowfall: 38.5″ (15.3″ below normal)

In summary then, Denver was much warmer and drier than normal in 2012.


Looking ahead, low-frequency climate patterns (e.g. ENSO and IPO) are currently neutral and weakly negative.  For the next few months, Denver should see near-average temperatures and near- or below-average precipitation.  Since the Denver area is currently experiencing `Moderate` drought conditions, additional below- or near-average precipitation conditions will likely further worsen drought conditions.  Any recovery from this drought is likely to be long-term.

This has direct implications on peoples’ lives.  Water supply will be strained in early 2013.  Agriculture was hit hard by the drought last year and will likely need to plan for continued drought this year.  That translates to higher consumer prices for staple goods.  Pine forests continue to face stressed environmental conditions (e.g. pine beetle epidemic and drought), setting the stage for another season of terrible forest fires.  Stakeholders worked to mitigate some of the climate effects in 2012.  They will have to remain vigilant and informed in 2013.


One thought on “Denver’s Warm December Start Didn’t Last

  1. Pingback: 2012: Dry in Central U.S., Wet in U.K. « Weatherdem's Weblog

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