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Summit County records top wind speed in state — again

Winds of 80 mph were widespread across mountains and Front Range

Here is surface pressure analysis (light blue lines) and infrared satellite image at 12 PM MST near the height of the windstorm. Note the large difference in pressure between the surface low pressure over southeast Nebraska and high pressure centered over southern Idaho, and the resulting tight gradient across Colorado. This is a key feature in windstorms across the Front Range and High Plains.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Similar to a mid-November wind storm, Summit County once again recorded the strongest winds in the state during the recent New Year’s Eve storm, with a weather station near Frisco measuring a peak gust of 126 mph early on New Year’s Eve day.

The storm killed one person in Boulder who was struck by a falling tree limb, blew trucks off the road, slowed chairlifts at high country ski areas and caused power outages for about 19,000 people in Colorado.

More trees were downed across the affected area and though the Forest Service hasn’t reported and specific blowdown areas, it’s likely that, when people return to the backcountry in the spring, there will be significant local impacts to trails.

A weather station near Loveland Pass also recorded several gusts stronger than 110 mph, while Lyons reported a 101 mph gust along with a 94 mph gusts at Berthoud Pass. Fraser and Kremmling both reported 80 mph gusts. Pinecliffe, in Jefferson County, reported a top gust of 111 mph, and winds in the 70 to 80 mph range were widespread across the northern Front Range mountains and along the plains.

According to the National Weather Service, the winds developed as a result of the pressure difference between a strong low pressure system over Nebraska and high pressure over Utah. Colorado was stuck in the middle, with a firehose of high winds coursing over the mountains and Front Range.

Wind facts:

  • Check this Colorado wind speed map.
  • Colorado’s highest-ever recorded wind gust came in at 201 mph atop 14,259-foot Longs Peak in 1998.
  • In 1971, the city of Boulder recorded a wind gust at 147 mph.
  • The strongest wind gust ever recorded was 318 mph from an F5 tornado that struck Oklahoma City on May 3 1999.
  • For many years, New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington held the record for the highest sustained wind speed, at 231 mph during a storm in April 1934. But recently, meteorologists reported that Typhoon Olivia, which moved through Barrow Island off the coast of Australia in 1996, managed to generate winds of 253 miles per hour.
  • The new record was confirmed by the World Meteorological Organization, a branch of the United Nations that studies global climate patterns and changing weather conditions. The Barrow Island record was uncovered largely by accident while examining data from the typhoon.
  • The 115 mph gust near Frisco would put the winds into Category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale. Sustained Category 3 winds can result in “structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures. Mobile homes are destroyed,” according to the National Weather Service.

 New Year’s Eve windstorm

Location                                 Maximum Wind Gust

 

Adams…

 Bennett                                             60 MPH

 Front Range Airport                           60 MPH

 

Arapahoe…

 Deer Trail                                         59 MPH

 Centennial                                         55 MPH

 

Boulder…

 1 W Lyons                                        101 MPH

 4 NW Boulder                                    84 MPH

 Boulder                                              81 MPH

 NCAR Mesa Lab                               79 MPH

 North Longmont                                 75 MPH

 Boulder Municipal Airport                   59 MPH

 2 NNW Louisville                               58 MPH

 

Broomfield…

 Rocky Mountain Regional Airport        58 MPH

 

Clear Creek…

 Berthoud Pass                                    94 MPH

 

Denver…

 Buckley AFB                                      64 MPH

 Denver International Airport                59 MPH

 

Douglas…

 Centennial Airport                               55 MPH

 10 SSE Castle Rock                            52 MPH

 Highlands Ranch                                 50 MPH 

 

Elbert…

 10 E Parker                                         67 MPH

 Elizabeth                                             55 MPH

 

Grand…

 Berthoud Pass                                     94 MPH

 11 N Kremmling                                  80 MPH

 9 S Fraser                                           80 MPH

 

Jefferson…

 3 SSE Pinecliffe                                 111 MPH

 3 S Golden                                          86 MPH

 Highway 72 and 93 Junction                79 MPH

 National Wind Technology Center        77 MPH

 3 NNW Morrison                                76 MPH

 4 S Rocky Flats                                   73 MPH

 2 E Golden                                          67 MPH

 2 E Northeast Lakewood                     64 MPH

 2 ENE Lakewood                                64 MPH

 3 W Conifer                                        62 MPH

 Wheat Ridge                                       55 MPH

 

Larimer…

 4 E Loveland                                      73 MPH

 Natural Fort Rest Area                       71 MPH

 5 NW Fort Collins                               67 MPH

 3 NE Loveland                                   67 MPH

 Wellington                                          63 MPH

 4 E Fort Collins                                   63 MPH

 Virginia Dale                                      62 MPH

 Fort Collins                                         57 MPH

 

Lincoln…

 3 W Cedar Point                                 80 MPH

 Limon Airport                                     74 MPH

 

Logan…

 Sterling Airport                                   73 MPH

 Sterling                                               70 MPH

 Crook                                                 65 MPH

 

Morgan…

 Wiggins                                               61 MPH

 

Park…

 Kenosha Pass                                     79 MPH

 Fairplay                                              77 MPH

 Wilkerson Pass                                   58 MPH

 

Phillips…

 4 E Haxtun                                         70 MPH

 Holyoke                                              63 MPH

 8 S Holyoke                                        62 MPH

 

Summit…

 7 S Frisco                                          126 MPH

 9 E Dillon                                            90 MPH

 7 SSW Frisco                                      86 MPH

 

Washington…

 Akron                                                75 MPH

 Woodrow                                           73 MPH

 5 NW Woodlin School                         67 MPH

 

Weld…

 4 ENE Eaton                                       80 MPH

 3 NNW Cornish                                  79 MPH

 2 NNW New Raymer                         77 MPH

 10 NE Pawnee Buttes                         74 MPH

 Briggsdale                                          72 MPH

 9 NNE Briggsdale                               72 MPH

 7 N Rockport                                      70 MPH

 Greeley Airport                                   67 MPH

 4 ENE Severance                                63 MPH

 Eaton                                                  63 MPH

 1 N Greeley                                        62 MPH

 6 E Berthoud                                       62 MPH

 2 W Keenesburg                                 58 MPH

 Milliken                                               56 MPH

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