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Leadville’s mild climate?

Brief by Central Staff

Climate – August 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Leadville’s mild climate?

This summer has seemed hotter than usual, with Salida reporting a 96° high on July 7.

But we’re not quite ready to blame it on global warming, since that’s not the record. According to the Colorado Climate Center at CSU in Fort Collins, the Salida record high is 100° on Aug. 7, 1902, and the cold extreme of -35° occurred on Jan. 2, 1919.

Salida has the highest high in the region; no other station got into the triple digits.

The coolest place — that is, the place with the lowest record high — is Twin Lakes Reservoir, whose extreme high was 77° sometime in July of 1974 (the records don’t always have the exact day).

In our more populated venues, Leadville is the coolest; its record high of 86° was set on July 12, 1942. Since Gunnison is generally colder than Leadville (as evidenced by its much shorter growing season), this was something of a surprise, but Gunnison’s record high is a scorching 96°, set on June 30, 1898.

To summarize the extremes around our part of the world:

Alamosa, 91° on July 14, 1934, -36° on Jan. 8, 1939.

Buena Vista, 97° on July 22, 1922, -32° in January, 1963.

Gunnison, 96° on June 30, 1898, -47° in December, 1924.

Leadville, 86° on July 12, 1942, -34° in January, 1963.

Salida, 100° on Aug. 7, 1902, -35° on Jan. 2, 1919.

Saguache, 98° on July 6, 1913, -34° in January, 1971.

Westcliffe, 96° on July 20, 1937, -54° on Feb. 10, 1933.

This information enables us to determine which place has the “most extreme” climate — that is, the greatest gap between high and low, as well as the “least extreme” with the lowest gap.

On that basis, Westcliffe has the harshest climate, with a spread of 150°, while Leadville has the mildest, at only 120°. Cañon City, which can get hot but has a reputation for a mild climate, has a spread of 132°, from -25° in December, 1990, to 107° in July, 1954.

Who’d have ever thought there would be a legitimate way for Leadville to boast of having the mildest climate in Central Colorado?