Colorado Springs experienced its warmest — and one of its driest — years on record in 2012, a trend likely to continue into the New Year, meteorologists say.
For the third straight year, the city’s average mean temperature ranked in the top ten ever recorded by meteorologists, breaking a record that stood for 78 years, dating back to the Dust Bowl, according to the National Weather Service. The city was an average of 52.9 degrees in 2012, a half-degree more than the previous record set in 1934.
The lack of snowfall last winter, a string of record high temperatures this summer and an unseasonably mild autumn left the tinder-laden landscape in an extreme drought by year’s end.
Along with the overall heat record, Colorado Springs had its fourth-driest year ever. Meteorologists recorded 8.11 inches of precipitation last year in the city — a little less than half of what the city normally receives each year.
Relief isn’t likely to come in 2013, either.
Temperatures are expected to remain above normal for most of the year, with rain and snowfall likely to stay below normal through the summer, said Kathy Torgerson, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Pueblo. But Torgerson said that much still depends on how much snow falls in March and April, which are typically the snowiest months for the city.
“That will be a big driver as to how dry our summer will be,” Torgerson said. “Right now we’re shaping up to be below normal, and that’s not a good place to be.”
“We’ve got a lot of catching up to do.”
Last year, hardly any snow fell during those two months. During the summer, heat records were frequently threatened or broken.
On June 22, the city began a 14-day run of high temperatures at or above 90 degrees, tying a record. A day later, the Waldo Canyon fire erupted west of Colorado Springs.
The city experienced its hottest day ever on June 26, reaching 101 degrees. As the temperatures rose, the Waldo Canyon fire barreled into the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, destroying at least 346 homes and killing two residents.
In all, 16 high temperature records toppled in 2012, said Randy Gray, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Pueblo.
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