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Extreme temperatures continue in 2023 with record heat in Denver

Record heat in Denver on Tuesday was the seventh temperature record of the 2023. Another record is forecast for Wednesday.

DENVER — Temperature records have been kept in Denver for 152 years – and it’s never been as hot on April11 as it was on Tuesday. It spiked to 85 degrees just before 3:30 p.m.

Another heat record is forecast to be broken on Wednesday when it's expected to reach 84 degrees in Denver – the record is 79 degrees which was last set in 2018. 

And it was just last Wednesday that Denver broke a record cold temperature at 11 degrees.

We all know that weather on the Colorado Front Range can change rapidly, but rarely do you see such a quick flip from record cold to record heat.

But so far 2023 has been extreme. With two cold records in January and three in February, that would make eight temperature records all together assuming Wednesdays record does get broken.

That would be the most temperature records in the first four months of any year since 10 were broken in 2006.

The cause is something called an amplified jet stream. This week its amplified to the north of Colorado allowing heat to build, but several other times this year it has swung the opposite way, amplifying to the south, drawing down arctic cold.

Years with wavy jet streams have happened periodically throughout Denver’s entire 152-year temperature records. But the longer the history the more unusual it is to break records.

Climate modeling suggests that amplified jet stream patterns might be getting more common as a result of climate change. Mainly a result of warming in the Arctic. 

When the temperature difference between the poles and the mid-latitudes are smaller, the jet stream tends to be slower overall, allowing it to spiral out of control more often. 

That would mean more extreme cold and warm temperatures are in Colorado’s future despite that lengthy history.

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