For the first time in over 100 years, Denver residents may have a snowless winter. Since record-keeping started in 1882, this is the first time Denver, Colorado, has experienced a meteorological fall (the period between September and November) without snow.
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According to officials, the city has now gone over 220 days without snow, and it looks poised to continue experiencing snowless weather in the coming days. If the trend continues, the city may break its record of 235 consecutive days without measurable snow, set in 1887.
The city is also experiencing temperatures in the 70s, about 20 to 30 degrees above normal for this time of year. Several states across the central and western U.S. are experiencing similarly high temperatures.
According to experts, these unique weather patterns could be caused by various factors. One of the major reasons for the area’s drought is a weather phenomenon known as a La Niña system. This refers to a situation in which colder than usual sea surface temperatures in the Pacific cause warmer, drier air to rest over the land. Another possible cause is, of course, climate change.
In early August, when the drought was at its peak, Tanya Trujillo, Interior Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, spoke with reporters about the drought and climate change. “We are seeing the effects of climate change in the Colorado River Basin through extended drought, extreme temperatures, expansive wildfires, and in some places flooding and landslides,” said Trujillo, “and now is the time to take action to respond to them.”
Even with such a dry year, the average annual precipitation in Colorado hasn’t changed much. The state experienced heavy rains in spring, setting a record of the wettest spring in 80 years. However, experts say that there are plenty of reasons for concern. For example, Colorado’s snowpack is at 35% to 85% of average. Further, more than half the state is currently under severe drought.
Lead image via Pixabay