Dec 15, 2021 - News

Hurricane-force winds predicted to rip through Colorado

A man in Denver tries to keep his umbrella in his hands as strong wind blows during a storm in 2017. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post via Getty Images

A supercharged storm system will whip through Colorado on Wednesday — and with it could come winds as mighty as a Category 1 hurricane.

Why it matters: The force of the storm threatens to damage homes and trees, cause power outages, reduce visibility and fuel wildfires.

  • Most of the state is experiencing a severe drought. At least two blazes have broken out this month, including a grass fire yesterday in Douglas County that rapidly spread to over 10 acres.

Threat level: The National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning from 8am to 5pm that spans much of eastern and central Colorado — with the worst expected to strike between late this morning and early afternoon.

  • Boulder, Arvada, Golden and Fort Collins carry the highest risk for the strongest winds, estimated to clock in near 100 mph.
  • Gusts between 55 mph and 70 mph are expected for most of the plains, including Denver, per the NWS.

State of play: Wednesday's high wind warning marks the 10th such caution this year and sixth since Oct. 12. More are expected through the winter, the Coloradoan reports.

  • The highest wind gust recorded in Denver since 1872 was in 2013, when a tornado delivered speeds of 97 mph, according to NWS records. The previous high was set in 1878, with gusts of 96 mph.

In the mountains: The San Juans are predicted to get slammed with more than 1 foot of snow, while most ski areas can expect to see 2 to 8 inches.

  • The storm could make travel in the high country difficult, meteorologists warn, particularly in the early part of the day.

This story first appeared in the Axios Denver newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.

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