Can Colorado Have Tornadoes?
While Colorado isn't associated with tornadoes in the same capacity as neighboring states like Kansas and Nebraska, we do have a history of them nonetheless.
Where Do Tornadoes Happen in Colorado?
If you look at a topographical map of Colorado, it's easy to see where the state is essentially cut in half by the continental divide. The state is broken up into the Western Slope and the Front Range and because it is so flat, the Front Range is where the vast majority of the recorded tornadoes in Colorado have happened.
Most of the tornadoes that have occurred in Colorado have happened on the states' eastern plains which are largely rural areas. Some of the areas with the most recorded tornadoes include the area near Sterling, Colorado in the state's northeast corner, Lamar, Colorado which is east of Pueblo near the Kansas border, as well as the area near Springfield, Colorado in the state's southeastern corner.
How Bad are Colorado's Tornadoes?
When judging how bad a tornado is by its strength, these are some of the worst in Colorado's recorded history:
- May 17, 1997, in southeastern Colorado, an F-4
- June 7, 2012, between Centennial and Castle Rock, an F-3
- May 22, 2008, in Weld County near Greeley, an F-3
- March 28, 2007, near Granada, Colorado, an F-3
- May 28, 2001, near Colorado Springs, an F-3
- July 5, 2000, near Sterling, an F-3
- May 30, 1996, in northeastern Colorado, an F-3
- July 7, 1993, near the Kansas border, an F-3
- June 6, 1990 south of Limon, an F-3
- June 15, 1988, near Denver, an F-3
- June 24, 1979, near Colorado Springs, an F-3
- August 15, 1974, near Sterling, Colorado, an F-3
- October 17, 1971, in southeast Colorado, an F-3
Colorado's Worst Tornadoes by Injuries and Deaths:
While many of Colorado's have been rated high on the EF-scale, strength doesn't always equate to how bad the tornado was in regards to injuries and deaths.
Here are some of Colorado's worst tornadoes in that regard:
- June 3, 1981, in Thornton, Colorado, one death and 78 injuries
- May 22, 2008, in Weld County near Greeley, 78 injuries
- March 28, 2007, near Granada, Colorado, two deaths and nine injuries
- May 28, 2001, near Colorado Springs, four injuries
- July 5, 2000, near Sterling, two injuries
- July 7, 1993, near the Kansas border, eight injuries
- June 6, 1990, south of Limon,14 injuries
- June 15, 1988, near Denver, seven injuries
- April 27, 2012, near Lamar, 7 injuries
- 2001 near Denver, five injuries
- June 8, 1986, near Denver, six injuries
- October 17, 1971, near Wray, Colorado, nine injuries
- June 7, 2009, near Centennial, two injuries
- June 9, 2004, in Sterling, Colorado, two injuries
- October 11, 1977, near La Junta, six injuries
- June 13, 1981, in Weld County, two injuries
Colorado Tornadoes that Have Done Major Damage
While things like injuries suffered or the strength of tornadoes are ways to gauge their seriousness, the total damage caused by them is not always proportionate.
These Colorado tornadoes are among the most damaging in the state's history:
- May 22, 2008, near Greeley, $147 million in damage
- May 28, 2001, near Colorado Springs, $8 million in damage
- June 6, 1990, near Limon, $5 million in damage
- June 15, 1988, near Denver, $8 million in damage
- June 3, 1981, near Thornton, Colorado, $5 million in damage
- June 9, 2004, near Sterling, Colorado, $1.9 million in damage
Scroll through the worst tornadoes in Colorado's recorded history: