On Saturday it was 101 degrees in Denver, but Monday night will see a possible record drop in temperatures as the low hits in the mid-30s with up to 14 inches of snow.
Temperatures were still in the 90s on Monday, but a cold front passing through the Mile High City is forecast to bring the near-freezing temperatures and a snowfall that could help fight, if not completely extinguish a nearby forest fire that has blanketed the city with smoke.
"A drastic change in the weather will occur Monday night and Tuesday, with record or near record heat replaced by wintry conditions, snow, and record cold," according to The National Weather Service. "Significant snow accumulations can be expected in the Front Range Mountains and Foothills, while the Denver metro area and I-25 Corridor may also see slushy, wet snowfall by early Tuesday morning."
"It is pretty crazy to go from the latest 100-degree day and a couple of days later you could have your second earliest snowfall of an inch or greater," said Marc Chenard, a senior branch forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center.
Heat has been bearing down across the West from California to the Rocky Mountains, taxing electricity demand, drying out the landscape and adding to fire risks. The cold front is set to drop temperatures into the 20s and 30s across the northern Rocky Montains and Great Plains but bring little relief along the West Coast – above-normal temperatures will linger through the rest of the week.
Saturday's high became the latest 100-degree day on record and Tuesday's snow will place second behind a 4-inch total in 1961 as the earliest snowfall of an inch or more, Chenard said.
But as the snow piles up and the temperatures drop, no one should put away their summer clothes just yet. By Friday, the high in Denver will be back up to 77, Chenard said.
For California, the cool-down will be relative. The high in Los Angeles and Sacramento will be 110 Sunday and dropping to 98 by Wednesday, according to the Weather Service.
Bloomberg contributed to this report.
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