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Those of us who live in the high altitudes of the Central Colorado Rocky Mountains like to point out on hot summer days that we live in the tiny green areas of the map, gloating just a bit of our good fortune and foresight in choosing to live where we do. This coming week, it looks as if those green parts of the map are going to mostly disappear.

Image courtesy of Total Landscape Care

The massive heat dome that has caused record-setting heat across the Southwest and South is expanding to include the Midwest and the plains and it covers even the highest altitudes of the Colorado Rockies. According to forecasters, what is coming could top state records.

Today the Arkansas River Valley is included in a heat dome heat advisory that in some areas could top triple digits. It covers Chaffee, Saguache, Fremont, and on the Front Range, El Paso, Pueblo and La Junta counties.

The forecast from the National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) projects that it won’t be over any time soon. In fact from today through Saturday, they warn that “Dangerously high temperatures are expected to continue over the mountain valleys and the plains.”

But we’re doing better than the eastern plains of Colorado and into southwest and south central Nebraska, where a hazardous warning went out this morning for heat indices of 100 to 105 degrees

That we should have been expecting this isn’t exactly helpful.

In its 2018 report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization to the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments  ( it lays out the impacts of rising temperatures on the headwaters counties of Eagle, Grand, Gunnison, Pitkin, Routt, and Summit counties. Of course, those of us who live in the headwaters of the Arkansas River know that the Arkansas is intimately tied to the Colorado basin too.

That report projected that mid-century temperatures would average 1.5° Fahrenheit to 6.5° hotter than in 1971–2000, and late-century temperatures 1.5° to 9.5° hotter, depending on future levels of heat-trapping emissions. It appears we’re nearly there already, and we’re still a few decades away from 2050.

What that means for the water and snowpack of the headwaters is major changes to snowpack, river flow, more rapid spring melts, a growing drought and wildfire danger, and impacts to water quality, as well as future impacts to both summer and winter recreation livelihoods.

But for now — it’s the heat. NOAA has also reminded Colorado residents to be mindful of precautions;

  • Stay hydrated (today the humidity is only 17 percent)
  • If working outdoors, take breaks in the shade, which can be 15 to 20 degrees cooler than direct sun
  • Limit strenuous activity outside during heat events
  • Check on neighbors, especially the elderly and especially if they have no air conditioning, or their homes are unshaded.
  • Pull down shades and close windows and doors to keep the heat outside during the day. At night open windows to let in the cooler night air.
  • NEVER leave children or pets in closed cars — always LOOK before you LOCK.