WELD COUNTY, Colo. — It’s the second day of Severe Weather Awareness Week and the topic is tornadoes and tornado safety, which is fitting because Colorado has two of the top counties in the U.S. for tornadoes.
Since 1950, more tornadoes have been recorded in Weld County (262 from 1950 to 2016) than any other county in the U.S. Adams has recorded the third most, with 173 from 1950 to 2016.
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The terrain surrounding Denver creates differing wind patterns that will create an area of convergence (lots of rising air that can lead to thunderstorms and tornadoes) along and east of Interstate 25 north of Interstate 70.
This is known as the Denver convergence zone and the Denver cyclone.
In an average year, Colorado will have about 50 tornadoes. The total in 2016 was 45.
A couple of the most notable tornadoes in the state are the Windsor tornado in 2008 and the 2007 Holly tornado.
Limon’s 1991 tornado is also a notable event. In 1981, hundreds of homes and businesses in Thornton had damage from a tornado on June 3.
Colorado’s tornado season is traditionally May through August, but we have had tornadoes from February to as late as October.
Although tornadoes have been reported statewide, even on Mount Evans, the vast majority (95 percent) have occurred east of I-25.
If interested in seeing how close a tornado has come to your home, you can use this interactive map that I’ve put together. I’ve included data through 2015:
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Now that you can see how frequent and close tornadoes have been close to you, here are some safety tips via the National Weather Service Office in Boulder:
“An easy phrase to remember for tornado safety is to Get In, Get Down, and Cover Up. Get inside a sturdy building, get down to the lowest floor or most interior room, and cover your head. The best option for tornado safety is to be inside a well-built structure within a basement, safe room or underground storm shelter. If none of these options are available, move to a hallway or a small interior room on the lowest floor such as a closet or bathroom. A room without windows is best. Cover yourself with blankets or get under a sturdy piece of furniture because the greatest risk of injury from tornadoes is from flying debris and structural collapse. Abandon modular homes and mobile homes as they offer little to no protection from tornadoes. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes.
If you are driving in open country and see a tornado, do not try to outrun a tornado as tornadoes can move up to 60 miles per hour. Instead, simply drive away from the tornado path at a right angle if time permits. Do not take shelter beneath a highway overpass. If a tornado is fast approaching with little time to react, pull over into a ditch. Either remain buckled in your vehicle while crouching down below window level, or abandon your vehicle and lie down in a low area away from your vehicle and protect your head. If you are caught outside and cannot find a safe shelter, crawl into a culvert or lie down in a narrow ditch and cover your head. But remember that these are poor, last-minute options because the worst place to be when a tornado threatens is outside in the midst of flying debris. Heavy rain can also produce flash flooding, putting you in further danger when taking shelter in a culvert or ditch.”