12 sweaty days – and counting
EAGLE COUNTY – In the 51 years James Lucero has lived in Eagle County, he can’t remember a summer as hot as this one.The Minturn resident doesn’t have air-conditioning in his home, so he and his wife, Stephanie, have had to improvise ways to stay cool. The couple keep a fan running and open their windows at night to filter the cooler, night air into their home on the Eagle River. If that doesn’t work?”I drink Budweiser,” Lucero said.While Denver and Grand Junction swelter in the triple digits, Eagle County is experiencing its own spate of scorchers in the 90s.
Still, we’re one tick shy of the record for hottest day – Avon weather watcher Frank Doll said that was 96 degrees back in May of 1985. The hottest we’ve gotten so far this summer was 95 on July 12, although Doll said a record has been set for number of days in the 90s.”If we hit 90 today, it’ll be 12 straight days in the 90s,” Doll said Thursday. “I’ve never seen anything like it, an extended number of days like this.”Hot, yes, and dry as well.”We have not received one drop of rain this month,” Doll said. “That’s about all I can tell you.”Forecasters say that could change this weekend. Moisture from Hurricane Emily could help bring relief. Chris Cuoco, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said forecasts seemed to show storms that could produce rain here Sunday or Monday.”Unfortunately, when you transition from a hot, dry pattern to the first day of a monsoon flow, the first day or two can bring dry storms with not a lot of rain reaching the ground but just as much lightning, which can produce more fires,” Cuoco said.
In the meantime, local moms and kids are heading to the county’s ice cream parlors and swimming pools a little more frequently than usual. The Eagle-Vail Community Pool has been busy until closing all week, said Amelia Van Dyke, pool manager. It may be good for business, but it hasn’t been good for Van Dyke.”I’d like to move to Alaska if this continues,” she said. While high country residents and visitors bemoaned the 90-degree days, it was nothing compared to other areas of the state and country. For the second straight day Thursday, Denver broke a record for high temperatures. Denver, which tied its all-time recorded high of 105 Wednesday, easily topped the previous record of 100 for Thursday when the temperature at the airport climbed to 104 at mid-afternoon. Doll said the culprit is a high-pressure system that’s pushing all moisture away from the state. That system, with dry winds bringing warm air from the Southwest, helped push temperatures to 106 Wednesday in Pueblo, surpassing the record 104 high in 1998. Colorado Springs was cooler at 97, but that topped the 1998 record high of 96.
And while Eagle County swelters in 90-degree days, that’s an ice box compared to Las Vegas. Since July 12, the city has endured a streak of 110-degree days.The big story for some of these hot spots is enormous energy consumption, as people turn to their air conditioners for comfort. Xcel Energy in Colorado hit an all-time high for power use of 6,655 megawatts Tuesday and said the record might fall again Thursday as residents and businesses kept their air conditioners running. The previous record was 6,421 megawatts, set July 13, 2004.That’s not as big an issue in the high country.”It’s fair to say we just don’t have as big an issue with hot weather as other utilities,” said Steve Casey, spokesman for Holy Cross Energy. “People are probably adding some a/c to the load, but a lot of the increase we see is just normal growth in the area.”Most High Country residents don’t even have home air conditioners. However, Meadow Mountain Plumbing and Heating has received more orders for air conditioners than usual, said Dave Largen, the shop’s project manager.Tasha Schwarz of Eagle-Vail has a more cost-effective solution. She relies on steady doses of popsicles and pina coladas to keep her family cool.
“Stay out of the kitchen, don’t do the laundry, and lay out by the pool, where it’s cool,” Schwarz said. The Associated Press contributed to this story.Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado