Extreme climate impacts in Boulder County. Fire, flood, invasive species

Climate Change in Boulder County

Boulder County and other Colorado communities are already experiencing the impacts of a warming climate in the form of reduced snowpack, earlier snowmelt, increased risk of high intensity wildfires, extreme weather events, and an increased number of “high heat” days. In addition to these environmental impacts, the change in local climate can also have negative effects on the health of our residents.

Environmental Effects of Climate Change

Home in forested hilly area with large wildfire looming in the background.
  • More heat: hotter summers and warmer winters, leading to more rain and less snow
  • Increased frequency and intensity of flooding
  • Longer periods of drought
  • More wildfires: burning twice as many acres each year as compared to before 1980
  • Widespread beetle infestations
  • Water shortages: Colorado’s precipitation has decreased 20% in the last century, and water supplies are already stretched thin. Less snow, melting earlier, could leave Boulder County with less water during hotter summers.
  • Economic impacts: tens of millions in road damage from increased heat; increased water flow resulting in millions in bridge damage

Health Effects of Climate Change

Athlete trailrunning in the mountains during a nice sunset. With motionblur.
  • Poor air quality from wildfires and high ozone days leads to more cardiovascular, respiratory, and allergy-related illness.
  • Natural disasters lead to increased exposure, physical injury, and even death:
    • The 2013 Flood resulted in 2 deaths in Boulder County, nearly 19,000 damaged homes, and more than 1,500 destroyed homes.
    • The Marshall Fire and Wind Eventin December 2021 killed 2 people and destroyed over 1,000 structures including homes and businesses
  • High heat days lead to dehydration, heat stroke, and aggravated cardiovascular and respiratory illness.
    • Children, the elderly, and Boulder County residents living in poverty are more vulnerable to heat-related illness.
    • In the Denver area, the annual frequency of 100 degree days has increase by more than 250% on average since 1967-1999.
  • Changing ecosystems can spread severe illness.
    • Increased number and intensity of vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus, hantavirus, and tick-related diseases.
    • Increased number and intensity of waterborne diseases like giardiasis, cryptosporidiosis, and schistosomiasis.

Contact Us

Office of Sustainability, Climate Action and Resilience

OSCAR Team Members


Boulder County Courthouse
First Floor
1325 Pearl St.
Boulder, CO 80302
Map and Directions

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Mailing Address

PO Box 471
Boulder, CO 80306