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Thornton, Colorado, USA
UpdatedSun, 25-Jun-2017 11:20am MDT 
 

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Severe Weather 101 – Hail and Wind

Thursday, April 20th, 2017 5:19am 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.

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Thornton’s Thursday cools down, brings chances for showers

Thursday, April 20th, 2017 5:17am MDT

We now return you to your more typical April weather. The warm, dry conditions of recent days are done for now and today we begin a brief period of cooler, possibly wetter weather.

The day today starts out mostly clear but clouds will be increasing through the morning and early afternoon as a trough approaches. Winds will be light but then have the potential to be a bit gusty later in the day. Temperatures will be climbing to a high right near the average for today’s date of 62 degrees.

The afternoon ushers in our first chance at precipitation in quite a while. A few showers, possibly with some thunder mixed in, will be possible from noon into the evening. By about 7:00pm, showers should increase in coverage and give us decent chances at precipitation through the early morning hours tomorrow.

Overnight lows tonight will drop to around 40 degrees.

Keep an eye out for those showers with our interactive radar here.

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Severe Weather 101 – Floods and Flash Floods

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 5:10am 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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Cooler temperatures, breezy winds on tap for Thornton’s Wednesday

Wednesday, April 19th, 2017 5:10am MDT

A bit of a change in the weather pattern begins today. It will remain mild but cooler than the last couple of days and winds are going to be pronounced. Then, unsettled weather brings chances for precipitation Thursday and Friday.

For today we start out with clear skies and other than some high stratus later, there will be plenty of sun above. After a relatively mild start this morning, the mercury will be warming to a high in the low 70s, cooler than the last few days but still a good ways above normal.

The main feature of today’s weather is going to be the wind. We start calm but by mid-morning speeds will be increasing leading to gusts over 30mph from mid-day into the evening. They will settle down overnight.

Lows tonight will be around 40 degrees.

An approaching trough is going to cool things further and give us chances for showers beginning late Thursday night into Friday. Saturday will see temperatures near normal then we dry out and Sunday rebounds to the 70s. Get more details in the extended forecast here.

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Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes and tornado safety

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 5:09am 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 in 2008 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 continues the unseasonably warm temps, offers more clouds

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017 5:04am MDT

Thornton will enjoy another very mild day today not unlike what we saw yesterday. The most notable difference in the weather will be an increase in cloud cover although that won’t impact temperatures much.

We start out the day with mostly clear skies then will see an increase in clouds as moisture aloft increases. For the bulk of the day partly sunny skies will be above. Winds will be relatively light and out of the southeast, conditions dry. Temperatures today will once again push close to the 80 degree mark.

A series of troughs will begin to cool things down and mix it up a bit for the latter half of the workweek. Check out our extended forecast for details.

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Severe Weather 101 – Watches, Warnings and More

Monday, April 17th, 2017 5:05am 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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Thornton’s workweek starts off the same mild, dry conditions of recent days

Monday, April 17th, 2017 5:02am MDT

There will be little change in the weather forecast not only for today but for the first half of the week. However, we do expect to see cooler temperatures and a chance for precipitation toward the latter half.

For today we start out with mostly clear skies. By mid to late morning a few more clouds will arrive slightly obscuring the sun. Temperatures will be climbing toward a high in the mid-70s. Overall conditions will be calm and dry.

Tonight mostly cloudy skies will be above and we will see overnight lows in the mid-40s.

Similarly, unseasonably warm temperatures will be with us Tuesday and Wednesday. Then, a trough and cold front move in cooling things down Thursday through Saturday and bringing chances for rain Thursday and Friday. More details in our extended forecast here.

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Severe Weather Awareness Week in Colorado gets started

Sunday, April 16th, 2017 6:00am MDT

In 1981 a tornado ripped through Thornton and caused major damage. Last year, funnel clouds were spotted across much of the area. Image courtesy City of Thornton archives.

As is customary, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has declared this coming week Severe Weather Awareness Week.  This is an opportunity for the public to get reacquainted with the dangers severe weather presents in Colorado.

Tornadoes, lightning, hail, severe wind and flooding are very real hazards that Coloradans face every year during severe weather season.  It is important that you know what to do to protect you and your family.

Just eight years ago in what was Denver’s weather story of the year, we suffered through a period of unusually severe weather including a tornado that ripped through the Southlands Mall.

Nine years ago on May 22nd an EF3 tornado raced north through Weld and Larimer counties resulting in one fatality near Windsor and causing several injuries and destroyed or heavily damaged hundreds of homes.

And of course in 1981 Thornton was the site of the worst tornado to ever strike the Denver metro area.

Tornadoes may get all the press but other severe weather can be damaging and deadly.

Just four years ago, late summer flooding caused millions of dollars of damage across northeastern Colorado.  It was 40 years ago that thunderstorms brought a raging torrent of water down the Big Thompson and caused one of Colorado’s worst natural disasters.  Six years ago hail struck the Thornton area causing damage to homes and vehicles.

In conjunction with the National Weather Service’s statements on Severe Weather Awareness Week, ThorntonWeather.com will be publishing our Severe Weather 101 series.  Each day this week a weather hazard will be discussed in depth and we will outline protective measures you can take to keep yourself and your family safe.  Please be sure to check back every day to read these important message.

» Click here to read the rest of Severe Weather Awareness Week in Colorado gets started

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Warm and dry the key weather words for Thornton’s weekend

Friday, April 14th, 2017 5:05am MDT

We are set to enjoy a pleasant three-day period with mercury readings above normal throughout. Friday will be the warmest day and while it will be cooler Saturday and Sunday, it will still be unseasonably warm.

For today we start out the day with clear skies then will see a few clouds by mid to late morning. Temperatures are going to once again climb to the mid to upper 70s. We do see just the slightest chance for a shower / thunderstorm this evening but most likely the action will be north of us. Overnight tonight skies will be mostly clear with lows dropping to the low 40s.

Tomorrow offers up similar sky conditions as we start clear then see some clouds later in the day. It will be a good bit cooler with highs in the upper 60s. That is still well above the average of 61 degrees. Saturday night clouds will linger and temperatures overnight will fall to close to the 40 degree mark.

On Easter Sunday we close things out in fine fashion. Mostly sunny skies will be above with highs topping out in the low 70s. Mostly cloudy skies can be expected overnight Sunday into early Monday morning with lows in the mid-40s.

Have a great weekend!

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