Tornado Lands on America’s Mountain; Destroys Hundreds of Trees
Trevor Phipps and Rick Langenberg
The continual wacky weather that has bombarded the Ute Pass and Pikes Peak regions made another return invasion last week, capped by a tornado landing on America’s favorite mountain on Thursday afternoon, with winds soaring between 86 and 110 miles per hour.
The twister followed a bizarre trend of bad weather moments, despite mostly sunny skies throughout the week.
Just as the saying goes, “When it rains it pours” proved to be very true in the local region. After the area saw large amounts of rain during the late spring and early summer seasons, the area was blessed with a continual spout of warmer temperatures for several weeks.
However, these dryer conditions have recently been interrupted by ravaging attacks by Mother Nature, making road maintenance in Green Mountain Falls and parts of Teller with gravel thoroughfares, next to impossible.
Last week, the famous summertime Colorado thunderstorms came back with force. Last Wednesday and Thursday, the warm temperatures reaching the 70s and 80s came to a halt when the clouds started to pour in during the afternoons.
On Wednesday at around 2 p.m., the bad weather went from zero to 60 in a matter of minutes. One second it was sunny, and then the next rain and hail poured down making for poor visibility on the roadways.
The rain came down so fast on Wednesday that part of roads saw deep standing water. In some neighborhoods in Woodland Park and surrounding areas, the water flowed out of drainage ditches and down roadways fast enough to resemble flash flooding conditions.
Then on Thursday, Mother Nature doused the region with Round Two of stormy conditions whether residents were ready for it or not. During Thursday morning, the conditions were sunny with temperatures reaching more than 70 degrees.
But then in the afternoon, the clouds came in and put a dark presence over the region. Alerts came across local news channels saying that there was a vicious severe thunderstorm sitting northeast of Lake George and heading west at an impressive 30 miles per hour.
The storm first hit parts of Divide and Woodland Park with fast heavy rain drops. The heavy rain then quickly turned into hail that pounded onto the ground and left some hail chunks on the ground that resembled fresh snow.
The main street in Green Mountain Falls, Ute Pass Avenue, was loaded with rocks in certain sections and main gravel roads in the mountain town almost took on portrayals of a Third World County. Sadly enough, the heavy flash-food level rain occurred just minutes after a number of the key roads were repaired from earlier storms.
Just after 1 p.m., cell phones in the region started blowing up with severe thunderstorm alerts. The alerts warned of high speed winds that could cause damage with hail reaching up to an inch in diameter.
Tornado Lands On Pikes Peak
And then in the midst of the storm another alert warned residents that a tornado was spotted in the region. The tornado warning sent out alerted residents to take shelter in the lower levels of their homes and to avoid rooms with windows.
The tornado warning including the eastern part of Teller County and the western section of El Paso County. However, the National Weather Service released the tornado warning less than an hour after it was issued and instead warned Colorado Springs residents of severe thunderstorms with fast winds and up to golf ball size hail.
But it was reported that a tornado did develop near the summit of Pikes Peak. At around 2 p.m., local news stations reported that a tornado touched down near the Pikes Peak Highway, destroying many trees. Pikes Peak America’s Mountain reported on Twitter that the twister ran for two miles, beginning northwest of Pikes Peak Highway’s Mile Marker 8 and ending just below Mile Marker 5. It came close to the Crystal Reservoir, a popular spot for recreation buffs, according to television news reports.
The tornado was spotted by a number of Pikes Peak area residents, who admitted much shock over the site. Based on the rating of this particular twister, a several second gust was estimated at blowing winds of 86 to 110 miles per hour.
Tornadoes aren’t new to the Pikes Peak mountain, but they are unusual.
The damage from the latest twister was significant, but luckily no fatalities or injuries were reported. “Damage resulted in uprooted and snapped trees, two snapped power poles and multiple power line snaps,” stated Pikes Peak America’s Mountain.
Power, though, was scheduled to be restored by Friday evening.
Once the storm came off the mountains, Colorado Springs residents were hit with excessive rainfall and large hail stones were seen hitting the ground. Motorists all around the Pikes Peak Region suffered from poor visibility conditions as the rain and hail plagued the area.
Reports showed hail hit most parts of Teller and El Paso Counties. Some pictures given to news stations showed hail stones almost two inches in diameter, roughly the size of a golf ball.
By Thursday evening, the clouds had dissipated and clear weather conditions returned. Then on Friday the area had sunny weather with temperatures staying in the low 70s, and no signs of any storms.
However, don’t be fooled by the balmy weather, as next week could feature a return visit of wacky weather.
According to the Weather Channel, thunderstorms are slated to make their way back to the Ute Pass Region this week. The forecasts show that every day this week there is a 40 to 70 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms as the area slowly creeps into its annual monsoon season.
According to weather experts, the severe hail and wind conditions are based on a high-pressure system pushing further west than what is typical this time of year. This has created a “perfect storm” pattern for tornadoes and severe weather events.