The tornado that tore a 34-mile path of destruction through northern Colorado was rated EF-3 by the National Weather Service. The Enhanced Fujita Scale was introduced in February of 2007, to try and give a more accurate rating to tornadoes based upon the damage they do. This more detailed scale replaced the old Fujita Scale. The EF-3 rating given by the Weather Service indicates that the Windsor tornado had wind speeds of 130 to 150 mph.
EF0: wind speeds 65 to 85 mph.
EF1: wind speeds 86 to 110 mph.
EF2: wind speeds 111 to 135 mph.
EF3: wind speeds 136 to 165 mph. (Windsor)
EF4: wind speeds 166 to 200 mph.
EF5: wind speeds greater than 200 mph.
The Windsor tornado was on of 20 tornadoes to have a rating of 3 or higher since 1950. For Weld County, this is only the second 3-rated tornado to hit since then. The first was on May 15, 1952.
This tornado officially touched down just northeast of Platteville at approximately 11:26 a.m. and lifted just northeast of Ft. Collins at 12:16.p.m. The tornado carved a path 34 miles long over a 50-minute span of time. The path length was up to a mile wide at times as the storm moved north/northwest across Weld and into Larimer County.
Tornadoes are not rare for Colorado during the months of May and June, however this storm was very unique in several ways. The size and magnitude of this event was extremely rare. Colorado tornadoes typically small and short lived. This tornado, dubbed a wedge because its width was bigger than its height, was one of the larger tornadoes to hit the state. The path the storm took was also very strange. Most storms have an eastward movement to them. This storm formed off the Palmer Divide early in the morning and moved north/northwest toward the mountains. The time of day was also an oddity. Most of Colorado's severe weather occurs in the mid to late afternoon. This storm BEGAN and had a tornado on the ground before noon.
Damage estimates continue to climb, but preliminary figures show 850 homes were damaged or destroyed in the tornado with damage estimates approaching $150 million.
The super cell responsible for the Windsor tornado eventually moved northwest into southern Wyoming where several weak tornadoes touched down in and around Laramie before finally moving into the mountains and dying. For more information about the Windsor Storm, check this excellent summary from the National Weather Service http://www.crh.noaa.gov/crnews/display_story.php?wfo=bou&storyid=14849&source=0
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