On Thursday, April 22, 2010, strong to severe thunderstorms developed across parts of the southeastern Colorado plains and lasted through the afternoon. The most dangerous thunderstorms were across Otero, Bent, and Kiowa Counties. Several tornadoes were reported with one supercell thunderstorm from south of the John Martin Reservoir in Bent County to northwest of Eads in Kiowa County.
A National Weather Service Damage Survey was conducted on Friday, April 23rd by the NWS Pueblo, Colorado office. The area shaded in red in the image above (click it to enlarge) was extensively surveyed. Interviews with Law Enforcement, Emergency Service personnel, and storm chasers were conducted, and photographic evidence was gathered from the general public and storm chasers.
One NWS storm chaser claimed to have seen twelve separate circulations on the ground in eastern Colorado.
Recall, that the EF Scale, which rates tornadoes, is a DAMAGE scale. Therefore, if the tornado does not damage anything, no matter how big it is, and no matter how fast the winds may be, it is assigned an EF0 rating. With that in mind, all the the tornadoes which are eventually logged, will carry a rating of EF0, with the exception of one.
With one tornado in south central Kiowa County, a small (15 foot x 30 foot), Depression-era barn was completely destroyed. At that spot, that tornado was given a preliminary ratings of EF1 with estimated winds around 100 mph.
Below are some photos of the only damage seen in southeast Colorado on April 22nd.
On the southwest corner of the intersection of County Road 35 and County Road H, in south central Kiowa County, a small barn was destroyed.
To the east of the small barn, an empty livestock tank was lofted a few feet into a fence.
Looking toward the south-southwest, you can see the barren country the tornado moved through. The first thing, and last thing it destroyed was this small barn.
Looking toward the southeast.
Looking toward the northwest. As the right side (east side) of the tornado circulation hit the small barn, the counterclockwise flow threw pieces of the small barn toward the northwest.
Looking southeast. Some boards from the small barn circled around to the left side (west side) of the tornado circulation, and fell to the ground in an arcing pattern around 300 feet west and southwest of where the small barn used to be. Pieces of the small barn were found 450 west of where the small barn used to be. The tornado width is estimated to be nearly 200 yards.
This board was driven into the ground about 200 feet west of where the small barn used to be.
Looking toward the west-northwest, some dead vegetation was lofted into the power lines. As the tornado passed across County Road H, the power lines remained intact.
Looking east along County Road H. The fencing was slightly damaged and some debris collecting into the fence. Some boards from the small barn are seen. Boards from the small barn were carried and deposited nearly 1500 feet to the north-northeast of where the small barn used to be. Additionally, a 50+ pound tire, which used to be in the small barn, was found 700 feet to the north-northeast.
Here is a photo of the tornado which caused the damage above, several minutes afterwards as it crossed County Road N. This photo was taken by a Kiowa County Deputy, looking toward to west.
Folks in Bent and Kiowa Counties were very fortunate because the tornadoes that did occur were over rural areas in-between structures and towns.
Last updated 2:35 p.m., Sunday, April 25th
Tom Magnuson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, WFO Pueblo