Thursday saw the largest outbreak of tornadoes in Colorado that we have seen in years strike the town of Windsor, destroying homes and businesses, tossing cars and semi-trucks like toys and killing one man.
At about 11:20am ThorntonWeather.com radar began to pick up rotation in the skies just south and west of Greeley. Within minutes, we were tracking what was to be this deadly and damaging tornado and at 11:50am radar (image at left) showed the twister virtually on top of Windsor. The National Weather Service is evaluating damage from the storm but early estimates place it as an EF-2 or EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale which would have generated wind speeds between 111mph and 165mph.
The tornado that struck Windsor was a wedge tornado, a type we don’t normally see here in Colorado. These are the largest and deadliest of all tornadoes because of their sheer size and ferocity and are like those that are common in Oklahoma. This twister appears to have been on the ground for more than 30 minutes, was up to ½ mile wide and traveled 35 miles on the ground. In our state we usually see the well defined, thin “rope” tornadoes which while damaging, typically don’t last as long and are not near as big.
The Windsor tornado was but one of what were multiple tornadoes to strike north central Colorado Thursday. Some news outlets were reporting at one time that as many as eight possible twisters however we caution readers to take those numbers with a grain of salt. More often than not, the initial numbers are inaccurate as they reflect multiple reports of the same storm, simply as seen from a different location. The National Weather Service does the final determination and it would not be surprising to see that yesterday there were two or three twisters.
These tornadoes continue this year’s trend of increased tornado activity. As we previously reported, 2008 thus far ranks as the deadliest year for tornado-related deaths since 1998 and the severe weather season is not even half way over.
If you haven’t already, you may wish to read our article, “Severe Weather 101 – Tornadoes” which has some very important safety information about what to do when tornadoes strike.