Current Watches and Warnings
Colorado, Larimer and Boulder Counties Between 6000 and 9000 Feet
Public Information Statement
Statement as of 6:45 PM MDT on May 18, 2013
... This week in Metro Denver weather history...
18-19 in 2011... a severe thunderstorm in Central Adams County
produced large hail and heavy rainfall on the 18th. Large
hail from 1 inch to 1 3/4 inches in diameter... was reported
in Commerce City... 2 miles south-southeast of Federal
Heights... Northglenn... and 2 miles south of Thornton. In
Commerce City... the storm uprooted trees and knocked out
power lines. A carport was lifted off the ground and
struck the power lines overhead. Heavy rain... from 1.0 to
1.5 inches fell in less than 2 hours in Commerce City and
near Brighton. The combination of hail and strong winds
broke windows in Northglenn. In the foothills... moderate to
heavy snow showers developed overnight. Storm totals
included: 10.5 inches at Gold Hill... 9.5 inches... 3 miles
west of jamestown; 9 inches at lake eldora; with 6 inches...
11 miles southwest of Gilpin and 4 miles east-northeast of
Nederland. At Denver International Airport... total rainfall
over the 2-day period totaled 1.71 inches. In addition... a
peak wind gust to 37 mph was recorded on the 18th.
18-20 in 1915... 3.9 inches of snow fell in the city. The estimated
amount of snow that melted as it fell was 6.2 inches which
would have totaled an estimated 10.1 inches of snowfall.
Precipitation totaled 1.03 inches. North winds were
sustained to 32 mph on the 18th. Low temperatures dipped
to 25 degrees on both the 18th and 20th... establishing
record minimums for both dates.
In 1988... prolonged heavy rainfall drenched Metro Denver.
The event began when heavy thunderstorms on the 18th caused
some street flooding and power outages... followed by steady
rain on the 19th and 20th. Rain amounts across Metro
Denver totaled 3 to 4 inches. Rainfall totaled 3.71 inches
at Stapleton International Airport where north winds gusted
to 39 mph on the 20th. Four to eight inches of snow fell in
the foothills above 7 thousand feet.
19 in 1927... southeast winds were sustained to 40 mph with gusts
to 44 mph.
In 1956... a thunderstorm wind gust to 54 mph was recorded at
Stapleton International Airport.
In 1969... hail stones to 1 inch in diameter were measured in
Arvada and Aurora. Some minor damage was reported.
Pea to Marble size hail fell in Westminster.
In 1972... a tornado was reported by aircraft about 5 to 10
miles east of Parker.
In 1988... lightning started a fire at a house in the Denver
suburb of Greenwood Village... causing 2 thousand dollars in
In 1991... strong thunderstorms over east Metro Denver produced
wind gusts of 56 to 60 mph. The strong winds downed power
lines... trees... and fences at some locations in Aurora.
Thunderstorm outflow winds gusted to 60 mph at Stapleton
In 1994... severe thunderstorms rumbled across Metro Denver.
The storms produced wind gusts averaging 65 mph and hail up
to dime size. Wind gusts to 77 mph were recorded in
Brighton. Numerous trees and power poles were downed by
the winds. One power pole fell onto spectators at a High
School graduation ceremony in Commerce City... injuring 6
people. In Fort Lupton... trees fell onto 2 parked cars...
knocking out the windshields. Hail to 3/4 inch in diameter
was reported in Littleton. A thunderstorm wind gust to 52
mph was recorded at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1995... a slow moving tornado... which was mainly discernible
by its dust and debris cloud... was spotted 2 miles northeast
of Denver International Airport or about 10 miles
northwest of Bennett. No damage was reported.
In 2007... lightning struck a 33-ft statue of jesus at mother
cabrini shrine... in the foothills west of Golden. The blast
broke off one of the statue's arms and a hand... and also
damaged a foot. It cost an estimated $200000 to repair.
In 2009... lightning struck the roof of a residence in Highlands
Ranch. The home was not a total loss... but the fire caused
In 2010... a thunderstorm produced hail up to 7/8 inch in
diameter in Thornton.
19-20 in 1864... a devastating major flash flood occurred on the
normally dry and Sandy Cherry Creek in Denver. The flood
was caused by heavy thunderstorm rainfall and hail over the
Palmer Ridge to the south of the city in both the Cherry
Creek and Plum Creek basins. Nineteen deaths occurred along
the South Platte river and Cherry Creek in Denver. The
torrent swept cattle and sheep along with large trees and
houses before it washing out several bridges... and moving
large structures from their foundations. All city records
were destroyed when city Hall washed away. The Rocky
Mountain news building... built on stilts in the middle of the
creek... was totally destroyed by the raging waters... which
were as deep as 5 feet on the morning of the 20th. Once
the flood waters receded... much sand and gravel was left
behind. Property damage from the flood was estimated at
nearly one million dollars. This was the first major
flood of record in the city.
20 in 1874... after a light late afternoon shower... 3 rainbows
were visible in the eastern sky. The two upper bows
were of the usual colors. The lower Bow had a deep
Violet center with a faint yellow and White Rim.
In 1892... apparent Post-frontal north winds were sustained to
40 mph with gusts to 48 mph. A trace of snow was the last
snowfall of the season.
In 1899... snow pellets from 1/4 to 3/8 inch in diameter fell
from a thundershower during the late afternoon. West winds
were sustained to 42 mph with gusts as high as 48 mph.
In 1904... southeast winds were sustained to 40 mph with an
extreme velocity of 42 mph produced by a thunderstorm.
In 1961... a tornado tore through central Douglas County... 1 1/2
miles north of Castle Rock. The storm struck 2 ranches and
the property of a drilling company. A car on the Highway
was lifted off the Road and slammed into a truck... injuring
the two occupants.
In 1983... heavy rain fell in Aurora with 1.00 to 1.50 inches
of precipitation. Local flooding occurred in Lakewood.
In 1990... 1 inch diameter hail fell at Buckley field in
Aurora. Minor damage was reported to autos... buildings and
In 1995... hail as large as 3/4 inch in diameter fell near
Bennett where a funnel cloud was sighted.
In 2001... damaging winds developed behind a vigorous cold
front that moved south from Wyoming into Metro Denver.
High winds... gusting to 58 mph at Denver International
Airport... downed trees and power lines and kicked up blowing
dust... dirt... and debris... reducing the visibility to near
zero at times. The poor visibility caused a multi-vehicle
accident along U.S. Highway 85 north of Fort Lupton. Six
people were treated for minor injuries. Several vehicles...
including semi-trailers... were blown off I-70 east of Denver.
About 32 thousand xcel energy customers in Metro Denver were
without electricity for up to 2 hours. At least a dozen
incoming flights at Denver International Airport were
diverted to other airports. All departing flights were
grounded for at least an hour. At Southwest Plaza... shoppers
were evacuated as rocks holding a tarp on a portion of a
roof under repair toppled into The Mall. After the passage
of the cold front... temperatures plunged from the lower 70's
to the mid 30's in one hour as light snow developed. Heavy
snow developed in the foothills during the evening. Peak
wind reports included 68 mph near Parker and 63 mph near
Sedalia. Snowfall totals included: 7 inches near Blackhawk...
at ken caryl ranch... and near sedalia; 6 inches in Coal Creek
Canyon... at Eldorado Springs... and atop lookout mountain; 5
inches at chief hosa... in Louisville... Rollinsville... and wheat
ridge; and 4 inches in Aurora... Bailey... Parker... Castle Rock
and near Morrison. Low temperature of 31 degrees during the
early morning of the 21st equaled the record low for the
date last set in 1931.
In 2004... severe thunderstorms produced hail as large as 1.25
inches near ft. Lupton and hail to 1.50 inches 10 miles
north of ft. Lupton.
20-21 in 1891... heavy rain was mixed with snow at times and totaled
2.02 inches in the city. Snowfall was 1.0 inch. Northeast
winds gusted to 28 mph on the 20th.
20-22 in 1959... a three-day rain caused some flooding in Metro
Denver where rain totaled 1.68 inches at Stapleton Airport.
Showers... accompanied by hail near Brighton... caused some
damage to truck crops. Heavy snow in the foothills caused
damage to power and telephone lines.
20-27 in 2002... lightning sparked a wildfire near Deckers. Extremely
dry conditions and very strong winds the following day
allowed the fire... known as the Schoonover... to consume 3850
acres before it could be contained. Thirteen structures
were destroyed... including 4 homes... resulting in 2.2 million
dollars in damage.
21 in 1874... an extensive fire at Central City in the mountains to
the west of Denver produced large columns of smoke that were
visible from the city. In the afternoon... the smoke and fire
produced a dark inky black convective cloud... which spread over
the city and produced brief strong and gusty winds along with
a few sprinkles of rain.
In 1880... west winds increased to a sustained velocity of 40 mph
during the afternoon.
In 1893... north winds were sustained to 48 mph.
In 1914... a severe thunderstorm was attended by hail... excessive
rainfall which totaled 1.94 inches... and an unusual amount
of vivid lightning. The heavy rainfall of 0.83 inch in 15
minutes produced flooding... which caused considerable damage
to bottom lands in eastern and southern parts of the city.
Many garden tracts and cellars were flooded. Southwest
winds were sustained to 29 mph with gusts to 34 mph.
In 1935... no precipitation occurred... making this one of
only two days without precipitation during the entire
month. The other day was the 10th. Precipitation
totaled 4.95 inches for the month.
In 1952... a tornado produced a high column of dust and dirt
over northwest Denver. No damage was reported.
In 1988... a microburst wind gust to 52 mph was recorded at
Stapleton International Airport.
In 2002... very strong winds occurred over Metro Denver and
northeastern Colorado as a developing surface low pressure
center intensified. Trees and branches snapped... Downing
power lines across parts of Metro Denver. About 20 thousand
residents lost electricity. The strong winds produced much
blowing dust and dirt especially to the northeast of Metro
Denver. Winds gusted to 61 mph at Parker. South winds
gusted to 58 mph at Denver International Airport.
In 2006... a large dust devil formed near Quincy Reservoir in
south Aurora. The tall column resembling a tornado or
smoke plume extended upward into small high-based cumulus
clouds and was visible for miles across southern Aurora
and eastern Centennial. No damage was reported.
21-22 in 1878... overnight heavy rains of cloudburst intensity on the
Palmer Divide to the south of the city caused flash flooding
on Cherry Creek in Denver... which resulted in 2 deaths. A
wall of water swept through the city between 2:00 am and
3:00 am on the morning of the 22nd. The flood was so sudden
and unexpected that homes along the creek in the city were
submerged in water Knee Deep before the slumbering occupants
knew anything about it. By daybreak the banks on both sides
of the creek were lined by residents viewing the destruction
caused by the raging waters in such a short time. Seven
bridges across the creek were destroyed in the city. Damage
to private and city property was estimated between 30 and 50
thousand dollars. Quite a number of cattle and sheep were
killed along The Reach of the creek. Only 0.01 inch of rain
fell in the city on the 21st with a trace of rain on the
22nd. Flash flooding also occurred on Kiowa creek near
Bennett on the night of the 21st when the flood waters
washed out the Kansas Pacific Railroad bridge. An east
bound freight train plunged into the turbulent waters
killing the three crewmen. The locomotive was completely
buried in the sand and never found to this day!
21-23 in 1876... snow changed to heavy rain over the city... resulting
in widespread flooding along Cherry Creek and the South
Platte river... nearly as great as the flash flood of may
19-20... 1864. However... damage was greater because the city
had grown much larger and there were more bridges for the
flood waters to destroy. Precipitation in the city totaled
6.70 inches from 10:00 PM on the 21st through 3:00 am on the
23rd. The greatest precipitation ever recorded in Denver in
24 hours... 6.53 inches... occurred on the 21st and 22nd. Small
buildings and bridges along Cherry Creek were washed away
by the flood waters. Bridges over the South Platte river
were damaged. The city irrigation ditch was damaged and
rendered unfit for service. Strong winds at speeds of 30
to 40 mph drove the heavy rain through brick walls 12 to
16 inches thick. Many sheep and cattle were either killed
by lightning or drowned... including some 100 head of cattle
in Jefferson County alone. There was immense damage to
Railroad tracks... especially the Kansas Pacific line to the
east of the city. The Colorado central suffered estimated
damage of 10 to 15 thousand dollars. In addition... the
heavy rain caused extensive flooding on soda and bear creeks
in the foothills. Flooding along Boulder Creek inundated
farm and pasture land in the Boulder Valley and damaged a
few bridges. Rail travel had to be suspended in the area
for several days.
22 in 1876... the most precipitation in Denver on any calendar
day... 6.50 inches... occurred.
In 1901... northeast winds were sustained to 41 mph with gusts
to 45 mph.
In 1903... west winds were sustained to 45 mph with gusts to
55 mph from an apparent microburst... which produced a trace
In 1976... the public reported 3/4 inch diameter hail and wind
gusts to 53 mph near Littleton.
In 1987... Golf Ball size hail fell in the lorretto heights
area of south Metro Denver.
In 1991... a tornado touched down briefly in Castle Rock. No
injuries were reported.
In 1993... an off duty National Weather Service employee
reported hail up to Golf Ball size just west of the city
of Denver in Jefferson County. Thunderstorm wind gusts
reached 58 mph at Jefferson County Airport near Broomfield
and 33 mph at Stapleton International Airport.
In 1996... a severe thunderstorm pummeled northwest and
northern sections of Metro Denver with large hail ranging
in size from 3/4 to 2 inches in diameter. The cities of
Arvada and Westminster were the hardest hit. The insurance
Industry estimated 60 million dollars in damage to homes
and personal property and 62 million dollars in damage to
automobiles... for a total of 122 million dollars in insured
losses. This estimate also included the cities of Golden...
Thornton... and Wheat Ridge. This was the fourth worst
hailstorm to hit Metro Denver in the last 10 years.
In 1998... large hail fell across North Metro Denver. Hail
as large as 1 1/2 inches in diameter was measured in
Broomfield and Hudson. Hail to 1 1/4 inches fell in
Roggen. Hail to 1 inch fell in Brighton... near Keenesburg...
in Watkins... and in the city of Denver. Lightning ignited
a house fire in ft. Lupton. A warehouse worker in Denver
was injured when he was knocked off a loading dock by
a lightning Bolt. The Bolt skipped off a nearby radio
tower and struck him in The Arm. He was treated for
numbness in his right arm and released.
In 1999... severe thunderstorms produced 7/8 inch diameter
hail over the city of Denver... with one inch diameter hail
reported in Aurora... and 3/4 inch hail near Watkins.
In 2006... a lightning strike sparked a fire and damaged the
roof of a recreation center in Evergreen. The fire spread
into some brush and consumed about one quarter acre before
it was extinguished. Severe thunderstorms produced strong
wind gusts across portions of Metro Denver. Winds gusted
to 72 mph in Georgetown... 62 mph near Parker and Bennett...
60 mph in Castle Rock... and 59 mph in Longmont. The winds
caused no reportable damage. A thunderstorm produced
southwest wind gusts to 52 mph at Denver International
In 2008... a powerful tornado swept north-northwestward across
Weld County... carving a path of destruction nearly 39 miles
in length. The tornado... up to one-mile wide at times...
initially touched down northeast of Platteville and finally
lifted 6 miles west-northwest of Wellington. A tornado
assessment in the aftermath of the tornado revealed
extensive areas of damage. On the Enhanced Fujita scale...
there were pockets of EF3 damage near the missle silo park
campground and to businesses and a home in eastern Windsor.
Farmers reported extensive damage to crops and irrigation
equipment. There was one fatality and 78 injuries...
ranging from broken bones to minor cuts and lacerations.
One man was killed when he tried to escape a trailer park
in his motor home. Tractor trailers were flipped along
U.S. Highway 85... and over 200 power poles were snapped or
blown down. Approximately 60000 people were left without
electricity. The tornado overturned 15 Railroad cars and
destroyed a lumber car. The tornado also flattened the
main feedlot in Windsor and destroyed a Dairy barn. Most
of the 400 cows were killed in the tornado or destroyed
later. The thunderstorm also produced hail up to the size
of baseballs. Another tornado from a separate thunderstorm...
rated an EF1... briefly touched down near Dacono and
destroyed 5 buildings. The tornado overturned a five-wheel
trailer and injured a man sitting inside. Preliminary
estimates from fema indicated 850 homes were damaged... and
nearly 300 homes were significantly damaged or destroyed.
The poudre valley rural electric associated reported $1
million of damage to electric transmission lines.
Privately insured damages totaled $147 million... making it
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