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Colorado sets new wind record with 148 mph gust

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Posted at 5:59 PM, Feb 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-19 22:32:46-05

The National Weather Service says a new record was set Thursday night for the highest wind gust in the state when a weather station on Monarch Pass recorded a gust of 148 mph.

The Colorado Division of Aeronautics considers the 148 mph wind gust above Monarch Pass to be true and accurate, and NWS Pueblo concurs, officials said.

Monarch Pass is between Salida and Gunnison. The weather station is east of the roadway at the top of a curved mountainside at 12,031 feet above sea level, officials said.

The old record was a 147 mph gust recorded at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder on January 25, 1971, according to the Colorado State Climatologist who told the Weather Service that was the "accepted, yet unofficial highest recorded wind gust in Colorado."

On Thursday, the weather station on Monarch Pass (MYP) reported thunder and light snow in the vicinity and wind gusts of 98 mph at 7:16 p.m. MST and again at 7:53 p.m. MST.  In between those times, at 7:36 p.m., the MYP weather station recorded winds out of the west at 62 mph, with a gust to 148 mph.

"The Colorado Division of Aeronautics maintains high mountain AWOS weather stations for aviation safety purposes across the state, and stated that the Monarch Pass (MYP) AWOS weather station was operating within the parameters of FAA required tolerances before, during and after the 148 mph gust," according the National Weather Service.

The wind sensor stopped reporting wind data later Thursday night. 

Officials said when the heating elements stop performing, there is a loss of data, but not a false spiking up of recorded wind gusts. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation weather station on U.S. Highway 50, about 700 feet below, recorded a wind out of the north, at just 32 mph, at the same time. However, officials said there is typically much more wind at the MYP AWOS weather station than at the CDOT weather station, due to the aerodynamic shape of the mountainside, especially with west winds. 

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