Updated May 6, 2024 - News

1,000+ flights delayed as Colorado's wild winds wreak havoc — again

Twelve-hour peak winds recorded in Colorado as of about 10am Monday. Image: Courtesy of the National Weather Service Boulder

Exactly a month after extreme winds whipped through Colorado, powerful gusts are back and blasting the state once again.

Why it matters: High winds worsen wildfire danger, kick up dust that can be hazardous for people with health problems, and cause power outages, broken tree limbs and property damage.

The big picture: April and May tend to bring the most blustery days in Colorado, which ranks as the eighth-windiest state in the country, based on 20-year data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet.

A map of the United States showing the number of high wind warning events by warning from Jan. 1, 2000, to May 6, 2024. The map shows that western states have had more high wind warning events than the eastern and southern United States.
Data: Iowa Environmental Mesonet; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

By the numbers: Wind gusts on Monday are predicted to peak around 85 mph on mountain passes and up to 75 mph in parts of the mountains and foothills, according to the National Weather Service's online forecast discussion.

The latest: Red Rocks Amphitheatre canceled its Monday night concert due to high winds.

  • More than 1,000 flights have been delayed at Denver International Airport and at least 50 have been canceled, per FlightAware.
  • Early Monday morning, southbound Interstate 25 was temporarily closed after strong winds downed an overhead sign, which struck a semi-truck.

How it works: The main cause of Colorado's high winds is a strong, cold high pressure system moving from the west across the Rockies — known as a bora.

  • The winds usually spill out of the foothills, which often accelerate their speeds.

Driving the news: As of Monday afternoon, Xcel Energy hasn't announced plans to shut off power lines like it did in April when wind gusts were at their strongest.

What's next: Gusty winds are expected to continue developing tonight and persist through at least Tuesday, with the strongest winds expected across the higher foothills, per the NWS.


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