Winds came roaring down Colorado’s Front Range on Tuesday, unleashing widespread damaging gusts of 50 to 90 mph.
The winds uprooted trees, shattered windows, sprayed roof shingles, tossed outdoor furniture like toys and knocked over semitrailer trucks. It also blew up dust and debris, limiting visibility for motorists.
The gusty conditions forced officials to close a number of roadways or place high-wind restrictions.
In Denver, over 50,000 customers lost power. At Denver International Airport, where winds gusted to 70 mph, delays were numerous as two runways were temporarily shut down and 25 flights were diverted, the Denver Post reported.
The strongest winds, up to 90 mph, were clocked to the northwest of Denver.
“It was a rather remarkable event due to the extensive coverage and intensity of the winds,” the National Weather Service said.
The wind storm was triggered by a strong cold front that swept across the state. Sinking air in the front’s wake surged down the steep eastern slopes of the Front Range. Such an event is known as a downslope wind storm or a “bora wind,” the National Weather Service said.
Such wind storms occur along the Front Range “every few years” and have produced gusts as high as 130 mph, according to a reference paper published at the University of Washington.
The passing front not only produced damaging wind gusts but also a sharp drop in temperatures. Before the front came through, it was 72 degrees in Denver at 1 p.m. Tuesday. By 11 p.m., the temperature had fallen to 34 degrees, a 38-degree drop in 10 hours.