Colorado Tornado History

In the wake of what the EF 5 tornado did in Moore, OK yesterday, I wanted to share some tornado history from our own state.  I won't cover them all, but here are some important highlights:

Deadliest Tornado in Colorado History:  The tornado that struck Thurman, CO on the northeast plains, occurred on 8/10/1924.  It killed 10 people, and was unofficially rated an F4 or F5 with wind speeds likely over 200mph.  The town never recovered as many residents left shortly thereafter...

Strongest Tornado in Colorado History:  This tornado occurred on November 4th, 1922.  It started in southern Crowley County near Ordway and Sugar City before 5am.  Yeah that's right a big tornado that started in Colorado, in early November, before 5am.  Crazy...  Anyway, that tornado went on to move rapidly northward and struck the town of Holyoke around 9:30am.  The distance as a crow flies between those two towns is about 180 miles and when you do the math, that twister was haulin'!  It destroyed many farms/ranches along the way and when it struck Holyoke it killed one person.  This is often a forgotten tornado when it comes to Colorado history.  In typical Colorado fashion, a blizzard shut down Pueblo for that entire afternoon after the severe storms moved out that morning.  Such bad weather that the New York Times actually wrote about it here:

Recent Memorable Tornadoes:  I think when most people think of big tornadoes in Colorado, a few come to mind:  Limon, Holly, and Windsor

Limon Tornado June 6th, 1990:


Destroyed most of downtown Limon and rated an F3.  This was the tornadic event that pushed me to become a meteorologist.  I remember seeing this storm from our ranch some 45 miles away, and thinking to myself that I had never see a cloud look that way.  The top of the thunderstorm was over 60,000 feet tall...

Holly Tornado March 28th, 2007:  Done before it started, and produced the first tornado related fatalities in Colorado since 1960.  Officially rated an EF3, but did slightly higher end damage to a farm just north of town, it occurred just after sunset and sadly without warning.  Damage photos are below, but I know of not a single image of the tornado, as lack of daylight and lack of warning likely precluded any pictures from being taken.



Windsor Tornado May 22nd, 2008:  Struck late morning, which is an unusual time for tornadoes to strike.  The extremely wide EF3 tornado moved from southeast to northwest, which is also highly unusual.  The thunderstorm that spawned this tornado was part of a larger storm system that was responsible for producing much severe weather during late May.

Radar Image at time of tornado...notice the pronounced hook east of Loveland and south of Windsor.


Tornado as it was happening...notice how wide this twister was!  Again, unusual for Colorado...


Unfortunately, one person lost their life in this tornado, but we were very fortunate that it didn't cause much greater loss of life.

I know other towns have been hit by tornadoes...Ellicott, Lamar, etc., but when people think of tornadoes in Colorado, these are usually the big ones.  Share some of your stories if you like.  I am a weather historian, and am always interested in hearing your weather tales.

Chief Meteorologist

Brian Bledsoe

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