Denver, COTop Climate Change Risks: Heat, Drought, Precipitation

Risk Snapshot

Climate Change Hazard Ratings for Denver, CO

Ratings represent risk relative to the contiguous United States. 100 is the highest risk for the hazard and 1 is the lowest for the U.S., but does not indicate no risk. Flood and fire are rated based on the buildings in Denver exposed to these hazards. See hazard sections below and check your address for details.

People in Denver, CO are especially likely to experience increased risks from heat, drought, and precipitation.

Denver, known for its high-altitude location at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, has a semiarid, relatively mild climate, with many sunny days per year. Air pollution can be a significant problem in Denver due to its topography, with cars, trucks, and coal-fired power plants among the contributing sources of ozone and particulate pollution. As climate change brings increased heat and drought risks, people in Denver are also especially vulnerable to poor air quality during wildfires.

Heat risk in Denver, CO

The number of the hottest days in Denver is projected to keep increasing.

In a typical year between 1985-2005, people in Denver, CO experienced about 7 days above 94.2ºF in a year. By 2050, people in Denver are projected to experience an average of about 41 days per year over 94.2ºF.

Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heat waves, even in places with cooler average temperatures. See more information on heat risk. Everyone can take steps to reduce their risks from extreme heat.

Drought risk in Denver, CO

The recent average water stress in Denver is significant and projected to increase through 2050.

The Middle South Platte-Cherry Creek watershed, which contains Denver, CO, has experienced 777 weeks (68% of weeks) since 2000 with some of its area in drought of any level, and 137 weeks (12% of weeks) since 2000 with some of its area in Extreme or Exceptional drought. Source: National Drought Monitor.

Climate change is increasing the risk of drought. Water stress (the ratio of water demand to supply) depends on how water utilities source water and their plans to adapt to climate change. Property owners can also take steps to reduce their risks from drought.

Precipitation risk in Denver, CO

The amount of precipitation during the most extreme days in Denver is projected to remain about the same through 2050.

An extreme storm for Denver, CO is a 48-hour rainfall total greater than 0.4 inches. Historically, about 6.9" of rain (or the equivalent in snow) fell over about 10 storms each year. By 2050, about 7.3" of rain are projected over about 12 storms each year. The annual precipitation in Denver, CO is projected to increase from about 15.0" to about 15.8".

Extreme precipitation in any form can pose significant risks. Climate change increases the potential for extreme rainfall or snowfall because warmer air can hold more water vapor. See more information on storm risk. Property owners can take steps to reduce their risks from extreme precipitation.

Flood risk in Denver, CO

Buildings at risk in Denver average about a 31% chance of a flood about 1.0 feet deep over 30 years.

Of 309 census tracts in Denver, CO, there are 18 where more than half of buildings have significant risk from surface (pluvial) flooding and riverine (fluvial) flooding.Property owners can check a specific address for flood risk including FEMA flood zone, then take steps to reduce their vulnerability to flooding damage.

Climate change is increasing inland and coastal flooding risk due to sea level rise and increasing chances of extreme precipitation. See more information on flooding risk.

Fire risk in Denver, CO

The risk on the most dangerous fire weather days in Denver is high. The number of these days per year is expected to increase through 2050.

Of 309 census tracts in Denver, CO, there are 187 where more than a quarter of buildings have significant fire risk, and 118 where more than half of buildings have significant fire risk. Property owners can take steps to mitigate their risks from wildfires.

Fire risk depends on proximity to vegation: densely developed urban areas have a much lower risk of burning than areas adjacent to wildland. Climate change increases risks from wildfire by creating hotter, drier conditions for fires to spread. ClimateCheck ratings of fire risk are based on projected weather conditions and U.S. Forest Service models simulating fire behavior.

How can we prevent and adapt to climate change?

Mitigating climate change, by eliminating our emissions into the atmosphere and reducing our strain on the environment, and adapting to our changing planet are both vital to our well-being.

Understand Risks

The risks presented on this page reflect averages for Denver, CO and can vary for individual properties. Check your address and request a report describing risks to your property and in your area.

Protect Homes and Communities

Check our free report for tips on protecting your home from hazards.

Green infrastructure is a category of nature-based solutions for managing increasing precipitation. Find resources for individuals and municipalities through the EPA Soak Up the Rain initiative.

Planting trees and vegetation helps reduce extreme heat in urban environments. Cool pavements can also help. Search the Heat Island Community Actions Database to see what some municipalities have been doing to reduce extreme heat risk.

Read more about building resilience for communities: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit

Use the Common Cause tool to find your representatives, how to contact them, and information about political contributions and bills they have introduced.

Find Balance

Reducing emissions is necessary and possible across the globe and in every part of our society. Learn more with the Project Drawdown introduction to climate solutions.

Estimate your emissions with the CoolClimate calculator.