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Thornton, Colorado, USA
UpdatedThu, 17-Apr-2014 6:50am MDT 
 

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Severe Weather 101 – Hail and Wind

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 6:15am MDT
Straight line winds can be as damaging as a tornado.  This image is from a park in Tennessee.  (NWS)

Straight line winds can be as damaging as a tornado. This image is from a park in Tennessee. (NWS)

During the spring and summer months in Colorado, a wide array of severe weather can strike. Tornadoes may grab all the headlines, but straight line winds and hail can do a great amount of damage in their own right – and they are more common.

Straight line winds are winds out of a thunderstorm and are classified as severe when they hit 58 mph. These winds can reach tornado and hurricane force and as a result, cause property damage and can injure and even kill animals and humans.

These winds are usually the result of air cooling rapidly due to precipitation or evaporation. As the cooler air is heavier than the surrounding warmer air, it rushes downward, accelerating toward the ground and spreads out as it hits, much like pancake batter being poured onto a griddle.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Hail and Wind

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Seasonal temperatures, sunny skies for Thornton’s Thursday

Thursday, April 17th, 2014 6:14am MDT

Following a chilly start with temperatures in the 30s we will warm up nicely and head for a high right around the average for today’s date of 62 degrees.  Mostly sunny skies will be above throughout and winds will be light.  Nothing to complain about!

See the image for today’s planning forecast and head to our main page for more.

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April 2014 top shots: Monthly photo slideshow

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 8:35am MDT
April 2014 started with blossoming trees. Scroll down for more photos from the month.  (LW Inactivist)

April 2014 started with blossoming trees. Scroll down for more photos from the month. (LW Inactivist)

April marks a transition between winter and summer for most of the country but for Denver it is especially true as we can see a stunning variety of weather.

The proverbial April showers are certainly a possibility for Denver. Snow? Tornadoes? Thunderstorms? You bet – all can happen!

That stunning variety will undoubtedly be showcased in our monthly photo slideshow (below).

  • Slideshow updated April 15, 2014

Showcasing images captured by ThorntonWeather.com readers as well as some of our own, our monthly slideshow covers the entire gamut of weather-related imagery.  Sunsets, sunrises, wildlife and of course snow are vividly depicted.

Throughout the month we will gather the images sent to us via email or shared with us via our various social media outlets and post them in the slideshow below.

To learn more about getting your photos added to our monthly slideshow, click here. 

Click the play button below and sit back and enjoy the images.

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Severe Weather 101 – Floods and Flash Floods

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 7:15am MDT
The Big Thompson Flood in 1976 claimed the lives of 144 Coloradoans and serves to remind us of the dangers of floods.

The Big Thompson Flood in 1976 claimed the lives of 144 Coloradoans and serves to remind us of the dangers of floods.

For much of Colorado, floods and flash floods present a grave danger to life and property. These usually are the result of one of two things – spring snow melt occurring rapidly or a severe thunderstorm. Colorado is very susceptible to flash flooding and these occur somewhere every year in the state.

The waters from flash floods can move with extraordinary speed and strike with little or not warning.  Their force can be extremely destructive and when coupled with trees, dirt, rocks and other debris they carry downstream, they are deadly.

Flooding is the number one weather killer in the United States.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Floods and Flash Floods

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Mother Nature brings back cool, unsettled weather for Wednesday

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 7:00am MDT

Yesterday’s warm up was nice but it was also short-lived.  A cold front pushed through this morning that is going to bring cooler than normal temperatures and just a slight chance for precipitation today.

Gusty winds have already developed and will continue through much of the day.  Some clear spots in the clouds will be seen during the morning before coverage increases this afternoon.  Highs will be topping out in the mid-50s.  This afternoon brings a slight chance for light, scattered rain showers with a bit better chance during the evening.

See the image for today’s Thornton weather planner and visit our main page for more.

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Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes and tornado safety

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 8:40am MDT
Last year's Windsor Tornado highlights the very real danger twisters present in Colorado.  Do you know when to do when one strikes?

The 2008 Windsor Tornado highlights the very real danger twisters present in Colorado. Do you know when to do when one strikes?

One fact that may surprise those new to Colorado is that we are actually on the western edge of the infamous Tornado Alley. This large swath of land comprises much of the nation’s midsection and is a unique place as the United States sees more tornadoes than any other place on earth. In fact, tornadoes have been recorded in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii.

Closer to home, Colorado sees our share of these storms. In fact, one metro area county – Weld County – holds the distinction of being the “tornado capital of the world.” With 252 tornados from 1950-2011, no single county in the nation has had more tornadoes! Adams County is number two in the state and isn’t far behind with 156 over that same period.  Granted these numbers are skewed a bit simply due to the sheer size of those counties, but it does serve to highlight the real danger that tornadoes present.

Even here in the metro area tornadoes are a real danger. The Thornton area was struck in 1981, one of the worst tornadoes to strike the Denver area in history. At 2:30 p.m. this tornado touched down and by 2:45 p.m., the tornado had hit Thornton City Hall. The tornado’s destruction sent 53 injured people to hospitals, 25 homes were destroyed and 239 structures were damaged.

One common myth is that tornadoes don't strike metropolitan areas.  This has been disproved many times including here in Colorado in 1982 when an F2 tornado struck Thornton.  Image courtesy the City of Thornton archives.

One common myth is that tornadoes don’t strike metropolitan areas. This has been disproved many times including here in Colorado in 1981 when an F2 tornado struck Thornton. Image courtesy the City of Thornton archives.

The most well known tornado outbreak in the metro area occurred on June 15, 1988. Five tornadoes resulted in seven injuries and damage in excess of $15 million.

We all of course also remember just four years ago when the town of Windsor, not far from Denver, was struck with an EF-3 tornado that claimed one life and destroyed and damaged hundreds of buildings.

The greatest threat for tornadoes occurs during late spring and early summer when you have a combination of heat and moisture in the lower atmosphere. Here in Colorado, tornadoes are frequent from May through August with June being the most active month.

However, there is no hard and fast rule for when tornadoes strike, as Colorado witnessed on March 29, 2007 when Holly, Colorado was struck by an EF-3 tornado with winds of 165 mph. Two women lost their lives as a result of that event and 160 homes were damaged.

Colorado ranks 10th in terms of the number of tornadoes with 1,911 events from 1950-2011. One good thing is that our high altitude and drier air do make it harder for the monster supercells that spawn the biggest tornadoes to form. Most of our tornadoes are small and short lived. Further, thanks to the wide open spaces of the eastern half of our state, many strike sparsely populated areas. This is reflected in the fact that we rank 38th for tornado related deaths.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes and tornado safety

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Tuesday brings relatively seasonal weather to Thornton

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 7:31am MDT

The chill will be disappearing this morning as we see warming temperatures today.  Highs will be a couple of degrees above normal.  Mostly sunny skies will start things off with some increased cloud cover possible later courtesy of a developing wave cloud.  Winds will be a bit breezy later.

See the image for today’s outlook and of course visit our main page for all the latest.

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Total lunar eclipse to bring ‘blood moon’ on Tax Day

Monday, April 14th, 2014 10:21am MDT
Diagram of the April 14 / 15, 2014 total lunar eclipse. Click for a larger view. ( Fred Espenak, http://www.MrEclipse.com)

Diagram of the April 14 / 15, 2014 total lunar eclipse. Click for a larger view. ( Fred Espenak, http://www.MrEclipse.com)

For those willing to forgo a bit of sleep tonight, a gaze skyward will provide a look at the first lunar eclipse of 2014.

The entire celestial event will be visible from Colorado beginning at 11:58 pm tonight as the partial eclipse begins.  Totality occurs at 1:07 am MDT on the morning of April 15 and lasting until 2:25 am.  The event will be over at 3:33 am.

Current weather forecasts for Thornton and the Denver metro area show that we should have mostly clear skies tonight allowing prime viewing of the event.  It will however be quite cold with temperatures in the mid to upper 20s.  Check our 48 hour point forecast for what to expect.

During totality, the moon will be rendered orange / red as the Earth’s shadow envelops the moon.  Many are calling this a ‘blood moon’ but the meaning behind that term isn’t exactly clear.

As written on EarthSky.org, some attribute it to the lunar tetrad – four successive full lunar eclipses without any partial eclipses.  Tonight’s eclipse begins the lunar tetrad with each full lunar eclipse coming six months apart.

The blood moon as it pertains to these eclipses should not be confused with the October full moon which is also referred to as a blood moon in folklore.

Also note that Mars is at its closest point to Earth in 6 years.  The red planet will be visible at about the 2:00 position in relation to the fully eclipsed moon.

For more information:

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Severe Weather 101 – Watches, Warnings and More

Monday, April 14th, 2014 6:39am MDT
Last year's Windsor tornado highlighted just how dangerous weather in Colorado can be.  Are you and your family prepared?  Do you know what the watches and warnings all mean?

The 2008 Windsor tornado highlighted just how dangerous weather in Colorado can be. Are you and your family prepared? Do you know what the watches and warnings all mean?

We’ve all seen TV or Internet news of a weather related watch or warning being issued. But, how many really know what they mean? There is a pretty big difference between the two and it is important to be aware just what it means to you so you can take the appropriate precautions.

Dozens of weather related fatalities occur every year in Colorado, many simply out of ignorance. Taking the time to be aware of the conditions around you and taking appropriate action will keep you from becoming a statistic.

Naturally you can get information on current advisories from television as local stations usually do a good job of “crawling” them on the screen when they are issued. This works well if you have a TV available but if not, the radio would be a secondary source. The Internet and the National Weather Service’s website are a great one when at a computer.

The problem with relying on news media or the Internet is that their ability to warn you of a developing weather situation is dependent on your monitoring them.  Severe weather can strike without little warning.  How will you know if severe weather is about to strike if you don’t have the TV or radio on?

Your first line of defense – NOAA All Hazards Radio

NOAA Weather RadioFor just about anywhere, a special radio that picks up the NOAA’s All Hazard Radio broadcasts is the way to go and provides information from the source. Oftentimes simply called a weather radio, we highly recommend every household have one of these.

These radios are relatively inexpensive and allow you to be immediately notified of official National Weather Service warnings, watches, and forecasts as well as other hazard information like earthquakes, avalanches, chemical spills, and even AMBER alerts.  In fact, with these radios, you will be notified at the exact same time the news media is made aware giving you a head start on preparing for a developing situation.

To learn more about these devices and what you should look for when buying one, click here.

A high-tech alternative – Cell phone weather apps

Many people now have smartphones that allow for downloadable apps and weather-related ones are among the most popular.

All of these applications have a number of weather related features in common.  All provide current conditions for either the location the user is in now or for saved locations and all provide some sort of radar.

Most can be configured to sound an alert when the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning.  While they are no substitue for a weather radio, these apps provide you with immediate notification no matter where you are at.

For a look at some of these weather apps and their features, click here.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather 101 – Watches, Warnings and More

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Snow ends, sunny skies return to Thornton Monday but cold remains

Monday, April 14th, 2014 5:56am MDT

The storm system that made Sunday a bit dreary and brought a dose of snow has moved to the east.  While skies will be clearing, the effects of the system will still be felt in the form of colder than normal temperatures.

There may be a few flurries early but those should be ending soon after the sun comes up.  With dawn we will already be seeing mostly clear skies and by this afternoon sunny skies will be above.

Temperatures are going to be about 20 degrees below normal today though with highs only in the low to mid-40s.

See the image for today’s outlook and visit http://www.thorntonweather.com for all the latest.

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