Temperature Roller Coaster, Tracking Storm Chances

Twice in the last four days many Denver metro area locations saw temperatures break 100° F while officially at Denver International Airport the temperature topped out below the century mark. On Tuesday, we saw a high of 101° F at our station downtown while DIA recorded a high of 98° F. Either way you cut it, hot.

Like Monday, today follows the extreme heat with highs much cooler across northeast Colorado. As of Wednesday morning, a cold front was sagging its way across Colorado. This will help to keep temperatures some 15 to 20 degrees cooler across the region than what we saw for highs in Tuesday.

As of 10am Wednesday, we were already much cooler across the state than the same time yesterday, which a clear image of where the cold front has cool things down across the intermountain west:

The good news is, it looks like we'll see a nice break from the hottest heat over the next several days. Highs today will top out in the low to mid 80s across the region, with temperatures slightly warmer Thursday (near 90°), and again warmer Friday in the mid 90s, before a few more 80s return to the forecast for the weekend. While the forecast remains warm, it looks like we won't be flirting with 100 as we were both on Tuesday and this past Sunday.

We'll also see a better chance for storms in the coming days. Today the main storm threat will remain south and southwest of Denver, with only a few storms making it east off the higher terrain. We'll likely see some high-based storms again across the metro, similar to Tuesday, with gusty winds and lightning being the primary threats.

Wednesday precipitation forecast via the HRRR | Weather5820 Models

By Thursday we see storm chances increase to about 30% across the Front Range, with scattered storms likely delivering some nice moisture to a few spots Thursday afternoon. The latest high-res NAM model shows storms missing Denver Thursday, but keeps them in the vicinity, which means we'll be in play for a storm or two depending on out things shake out. Storms Thursday will be capable of producing >1" of rain in a short amount of time. The greatest storm threat may end up east of Denver out across the plains and Palmer Ridge.

NAM radar forecast | WeatherBell Analytics

Friday and the weekend look drier overall, but we'll keep at least a slight chance for storms in the forecast each and every day of the next week+. The GFS insists on some wetter weather moving in by later in the week next week, but so far there's little support from other global models... so we'll have to keep an eye on things, but not get too excited just yet.

Fire danger
With the recent heat across the southwest we've also seen an uptick in fire activity. Today's outlook shows an elevated fire threat for the Tahoe/Reno area, with isolated dry thunderstorms posing a risk across the southwest as well.

Unfortunately there's not much precipitation in the forecast for the western U.S. over the next week plus, which will keep the fire danger elevated. For Colorado, we can hope to see a least scattered storms in the forecast through the period, but as we've seen in recent days our fire danger has also been on the rise, with a fire northwest of Walden now growing to over 3,800 acres.

GFS precipitation forecast shows a very dry western U.S. over next 10 days | Weather5280 Models

With July 4th weekend just around the corner, please pay careful attention to the fire danger and any burning restrictions that may be in place!

Brendan Heberton

Brendan is founder of Weather5280. He is co-founder of FreshyMap, and develops software for geospatial data analysis and visualization.

Denver, Colorado
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