DENVER — The mercury at DIA climbed to 103 degrees Saturday afternoon, setting a new record high temperature last set in 1954.
Blame all the unusually hot weather across the central and western U.S. on an unusually strong area of high pressure. A high pressure system is a weather system that pushes air down over the region, drying it and warming it at the same time. High pressure systems are associated with sunny skies and mild weather, but when they get strong and when they don’t move, temperatures climb.
There’s also a problem with air quality under these hot and dry air masses. Since there’s little fresh air from other regions of the country, air pollution becomes a big problem, especially over larger cities. Smoke from wildfires over the western U.S. stays around, adding to the haze and the combination of sunlight and pollutants from car exhaust create dangerous ozone. Ozone most often causes breathing problems, especially for people with asthma.
The long term outlook for the western U.S. for the next week calls for more hot temperatures, with lots of sun and little moisture. Highs in the days ahead will be in the 90s. If you have health problems, take it easy. This summer heat’s not over yet.