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The Mile High City has been having a bit of an identity crisis the past two months. Torrential downpours, biblical flash flooding—tornadoes? What is this, Ohio? This strangely stormy season isn’t the status quo for Denver. In fact, May and June set some impressive, albeit annoying, records for precipitation (so no, it’s not all in your head).
It’s not unusual for May to bring bouts of afternoon rain; it is Denver’s wettest month on average (2.16 inches of rain is normal), after all. But this year truly outdid itself with 5.53 inches of rain, making it the third wettest May in history for the city. Denverites were doused in water for 17 of the 31 days, more than half of the month.
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And all those May showers brought, well, even more June showers. Our dreams of finally spending warm days floating down Clear Creek were dashed by downpours that seemed to last for days. By the time June came to a close, the city had racked up another 6.1 inches of rain, making it the wettest June ever and the sixth wettest month of all time (or at least since we started recording this kind of thing). The previous titleholders (in 1882 and a mere 127 years later: 2009) didn’t even eclipse five inches.
Denver wasn’t the only one dealing with the deluge. Akron, Limon, and Greeley also had their wettest Junes ever. Much of the Front Range put up the amount of precipitation they would for the whole year in just those two months. Case in point: In a typical year, Denver sees roughly 14.47 inches of rain annually. In 2023 thus far: 15 inches. Need we remind the skies it’s only July? If Denver sees normal precip the rest of the year, it’d still close 2023 five inches above average.
While this weather may be inconvenient for our summer weekend plans (and a headache for our homeowners’ insurance), it’s done wonders for Colorado’s natural splendor. Fluffy aspens and stands of lush blue spruce trees blanket much of the undeveloped foothills in a rare, vivid green. Spend the day hiking West Maroon Pass and you’ll notice an especially stunning palette of magenta elephant heads and bright yellow cinquefoil. And that stubborn drought that’s been clinging to the Centennial State since July 2019? No more. This marks just the second time since 2002 that officials have declared Colorado completely drought-free.
Unfortunately, it’s not all roses and daisies—though you can see throngs of the latter in the Brainard Lake National Recreation Area right now: Flash flooding and golf ball-size hail have also been part of the package, as if anyone needed to be reminded. On top of this, it’s also been an active tornado season for the Front Range with a rare twister moving through Highlands Ranch at the end of June. The Centennial State has seen 900 “severe” thunderstorm and tornado warnings this year—the most since 1986.
To say it’s been a busy season for the weather gods is an understatement. Hopefully your tomatoes have weathered the storm.