Colorado’s first tornado of 2020 was a classic landspout tornado

A landspout tornado touched down near Eaton on Wednesday causing only minor damage to outbuildings and no injuries were reported, according to the Weld County Sheriff.



Based on the Storm Prediction Center’s (SPC) storm reports database, this is Colorado’s first reported tornado so far this year. Fifty-three tornadoes were reported in Colorado in 2019.

The tornado was a classic example of a so-called landspout tornado, which forms in a different method than a traditional, supercell-produced thunderstorm.

Landspout tornadoes are common in Colorado due to clashing, small-scale wind boundaries. In this case, outflow winds, caused by the cold downdraft winds of nearby thunderstorms, likely created a small and highly localized boundary to produce the tornado.

On Wednesday, a line of intense strong-to-severe thunderstorms moved through far northern Colorado, lashing parts of Weld County with up to ping pong ball size hail. The storms formed along a dry line, separating a very humid from a much drier one. That (in part) forced the air to rapidly rise and condense into a line of towering thunderstorms.

But the close proximity of Wednesday’s storms along the line likely created the localized wind boundary – thus developing Colorado’s first tornado of the year.

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