Since 1950, only six other states have experienced more tornadoes than the 1,948 documented here through 2012, a Rocky Mountain PBS I-News examination of federal weather data found.
Two of the state’s fastest-growing counties – Weld and Adams, which surround Denver International Airport – had the most tornadoes during that 63-year span. Combined, they accounted for 410 tornadoes, more than one of every five. In addition, the Weld County town of Windsor experienced the most destructive twister in state history on May 22, 2008.
In addition to causing one death and 78 injuries, it was also the most destructive in property damage, $147 million.The Windsor tornado was on the ground for almost 39 miles, the longest recorded length since 1950, and it was also the widest at one mile.
June is the busiest month for tornadoes in Colorado, historically, and more than half took place between mid-afternoon and early evening.
Five of the 10 counties with the most tornadoes were along the Front Range. In addition to Weld and Adams, they included El Paso, Arapahoe and Elbert counties.
Despite their frequency, tornadoes have killed only five people in Colorado since 1950 – two people near Holyoke in 1960, two people in Holly in 2007, and the one person in Windsor.
A total of 283 residents have been injured by 53 tornadoes since 1950. More than 40 percent of the injuries came from two tornadoes – the Windsor tornado and one in Thornton in 1981, which injured 42.
The greatest concentration of tornadoes took place in the four-year time period from 1990 to 1993, spawning 283 twisters – or about one of every seven recorded since 1950. However, record keeping in the 1950s and 1960s may have under-counted tornadoes. The national database shows only one tornado taking place in 1959 and only two each in 1950 and 1964.
At least 10 tornadoes have caused $1 million or more in damage.