Two EF2 tornadoes in Baca County on Memorial Day (Updated 12:20 p.m, Thursday)

updated: 6/3/10; 12:20 p.m. MDT, added video

A damage survey was conducted by the National Weather Service Pueblo office concerning the tornadoes in Baca County on Memorial Day, May 31st. The MIC and WCM travelled to the damage areas with the Baca County Emergency Manager.  The preliminary report is that there were three tornadoes in southern Baca County, although there was one claim, so far, that two or three additional small, short-lived tornadoes occurred. Regarding the three tornadoes, two were rated EF2 and one EF0.

Two tornadoes occurred southwest of Pritchett.  Eyewitness reports said that one was quite large, and one was smaller and to south of the large tornado. 

Below is the approximate path of the large tornado...

 

Here is a link to video shot of the large tornado by Roger Hill...

 

Here is one link  and another link of this very slow moving tornado shot by Brandon Goforth...

The large tornado developed north of US Highway 160 approximately 7 miles west-southwest of Pritchett. Storm chasers said this tornado lasted for 22 minutes, between approximately 2:50 p.m. and 3:12 p.m. The tornado moved toward the southeast and crossed US Highway 160, snapping off and taking down 14 power poles in the vicinity of the intersection of US Highway 160 and County Road 8. This was consistent with low end EF2 damage. The power poles were approximately 200 feet apart. The tornado likely was not that wide (2800 feet), as the tornado probably did not move absolutely perpendicular to US Highway 160. Also, once the tornado snapped some power poles off, the domino effort took over, and pulled down poles on either side. After crossing US Highway 160 a tree had a large limb broken off on the east side of County Road 8. Thereafter the tornado passed over an open field and no fence damage was seen. No damage could be found with the smaller tornado to the south, as it traveled over open fields. Therefore, it rating is EF0.

The supercell thunderstorm continued to move toward the southeast. Storm chasers, emergency management, and law enforcement reported strong rotation at cloud base and occasional funnel clouds.

Then at approximately 6:09 p.m., another large tornado occurred south of Campo. Scores of storm chasers, emergency management, and law enforcement witnessed this very photogenic tornado for approximately 16 minutes. Video of this tornado was shown on National news outlets throughout the day.   Close-up video was seen as the tornado crossed US Highway 287/385 approximately 8 miles south-southeast of Campo. 

Below is an approximate path of the tornado...

Below is a photo of the tornado south of Campo taken by Roger Hill...

Here is a link to video shot by Brandon Goforth...

Best indications are that the tornado began a couple miles southwest of Campo and moved southeast. The tornado snapped off and took down 8 power poles west of US Highway 287/385 approximately 8 miles south southeast of Campo, south of County Road F. This is consistent with EF2 damage. The poles were approximately 300 feet apart. The tornado likely was not 800 yards wide, as the domino effect likely occurred in this case as well. The tornado continued on to the southeast, clipping a property north of County Road C, knocking down some large tree limbs. Then, it crossed County Road C, 8/10th of a mile east of US Highway 287/385. It snapped off and took down 8 power poles crossing County Road C (Consistent with low end EF2 damage), and moved onto a ranch. The tornado took down a windmill, bending it to the ground toward the east. The windmill was still anchored in the concrete base. 

Below is a photo of the windmill taken by WCM Tom Magnuson...

The tornado then moved toward a ranch house with outbuildings. A storage building was moved off its foundation and flipped on its roof approximately 20 feet to the north-northwest. The building was resting on its foundation, and not nailed or bolted down. This is consistent with EF1 damage.  

Below is a photo of the outbuilding taken by WCM Tom Magnuson...

The tornado continued to move southeast, damaging another windmill approximately 1 mile southeast of the ranch house. Thereafter, the tornado traveled southeast over open fields an additional 2 miles to the Oklahoma state line.

Below is the radar imagery captured around the time the tornado began south of Campo.  Strong rotation is evident at this time (2nd image below) indicated by the bright green colors, signifying strong winds flowing towards the radar, immediately adjacent to the bright red colors which indicate strong winds flowing away from the radar.  Tennis ball size hail was falling in Campo at this time. 

 



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