Post-Storm Summary of the New Year's Eve Windstorm


A fast moving upper level storm system, along with a deep low pressure system over Nebraska and high pressure building over Utah, combined to create a powerful windstorm across Northeast and North Central Colorado on December 31st.  The high wind event began in the mountains after midnight Friday night, and then spread across the plains early Saturday morning.  The height of the windstorm on the plains occurred around mid day when numerous gusts between 60 and 80 mph were reported.


The strong winds produced damage to fences and some roofs, and also knocked down trees resulting in power outages to approximately 19,000 residents.  Some trucks were also blown off the road, and 1 fatality occurred due to a flying tree limb on U.S. Highway 36 north of Boulder.


Visibilities over the northeast corner of the state were also reduced significantly by a combination of blowing dust and blowing snow.


The following is a list by county of maximum wind gusts associated with this powerful windstorm...



Location                                 Maximum Wind Gust



 Bennett                                             60 MPH

 Front Range Airport                           60 MPH



 Deer Trail                                         59 MPH

 Centennial                                         55 MPH



 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



 Rocky Mountain Regional Airport        58 MPH


Clear Creek...

 Berthoud Pass                                    94 MPH



 Buckley AFB                                      64 MPH

 Denver International Airport                59 MPH



 Centennial Airport                               55 MPH

 10 SSE Castle Rock                            52 MPH

 Highlands Ranch                                 50 MPH 



 10 E Parker                                         67 MPH

 Elizabeth                                             55 MPH



 Berthoud Pass                                     94 MPH

 11 N Kremmling                                  80 MPH

 9 S Fraser                                           80 MPH



 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



 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



 3 W Cedar Point                                 80 MPH

 Limon Airport                                     74 MPH



 Sterling Airport                                   73 MPH

 Sterling                                               70 MPH

 Crook                                                 65 MPH



 Wiggins                                               61 MPH



 Kenosha Pass                                     79 MPH

 Fairplay                                              77 MPH

 Wilkerson Pass                                   58 MPH



 4 E Haxtun                                         70 MPH

 Holyoke                                              63 MPH

 8 S Holyoke                                        62 MPH



 7 S Frisco                                          126 MPH

 9 E Dillon                                            90 MPH

 7 SSW Frisco                                      86 MPH



 Akron                                                75 MPH

 Woodrow                                           73 MPH

 5 NW Woodlin School                         67 MPH



 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



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.



Below is a 6 hour model forecast of 700 mb winds (approximately 10,000 ft MSL) and surface pressure.  700 mb wind strength is noted by flags (50kts) plus barbs (10kts for full & 5kts for half).  Stronger downslope flow and large scale subsidence which occurred in this storm can bring these stronger winds aloft down to the surface.



Here is a surface plot of weather stations across the region during the windstorm.  This image was taken at 1 PM MST, when the maximum winds were spreading across the northeast plains of Colorado.  At this time, the strongest corridor of winds stretched from Sterling (gusting to 59 kts or 68 mph), to Akron (gusting to 63 kts or 72 mph) to Burlington (gusting to 66 kts or 76 mph).



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