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Hurricane-force winds hit Colorado’s high country, foothills

Sunday, November 13th, 2011 3:56pm MDT
Hurricane-force winds pounded the Colorado high country on Saturday, November 12, 2011.

Hurricane-force winds pounded the Colorado high country on Saturday, November 12, 2011. Click the image for a larger view.

Fed by a strong jet streak roaring above the Colorado Rocky Mountains, a mountain wave setup over the western half of the state yesterday.  Strong winds were the result and were combined with heavy snow in the central and northern mountains.

The incredibly strong winds that would be the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane ripped through Colorado’s high country in the past 24 hours.  Many locations reported gusts in excess of 100mph downing power lines and trees and creating hazardous driving conditions.

The top wind gust reported by the National Weather Service was 115mph south of Frisco in Summit County.

Berthoud Pass saw a 113mph gust at the Mines Peak Summit (12,500 feet) with sustained winds to 86mph.  After sending that reading, the station’s anemometer (wind sensor) broke.

Other locations recording gusts near 100mph included Loveland Pass at 100mph and Kenosha Pass recorded 101mph.   Berthoud in Larimer County saw 99mph and the National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesa lab in Boulder recorded 90mph.

Here in Thornton we thankfully didn’t see winds nearly that fast however ours were notable.  We recorded a 38mph gust Saturday afternoon and a 47mph gust shortly after midnight Sunday morning.

High winds like these, while quite strong, are not entirely unusual.  Dangers from these powerful winds include power outages, flying debris, collapsed structures and the potential to overturn vehicles.  Learn more in our story, Winter weather preparedness: The threat of high winds in Colorado.

Below is a water vapor satellite showing the mountain waves as the moved across the southern part of Colorado.

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Water vapor satellite imagery shows the mountain waves that existed across much of southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico around 19:45 UTC on 12 November 2011. (CIMSS)

Water vapor satellite imagery shows the mountain waves that existed across much of southeastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico around 19:45 UTC on 12 November 2011. (CIMSS)

 

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