Colorado wind wrap-up: Some sites report gusts exceeding 100 mph as cleanup begins

Colorado is cleaning up after Wednesday's wind storm that produced four reports of wind gusts 100 mph and higher, caused more than 12,000 flight delays and left as many as 100,000 residents without power.

The wind toppled trees, blew down fences and overturned semi-trucks from Lamar to Fort Collins.

That same system produced Minnesota's first December tornado and the most reports of hurricane force wind (75 mph plus) — 55 (and counting) — since 2004 over a seven state area.

Here's a wrap-up from Wednesday's wild weather day:

Biggest wind gusts top 100 mph

Meteorologists will continue sifting through data to verify official wind speeds, but there were four credible reports of gusts topping 100 mph in Colorado.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo reported a gust of 107 mph at the Lamar airport. A station near Manitou Springs west of Colorado Springs reported a 101 mph gust, and the Air Force Academy on the north side of Colorado Springs reported a 100 mph gust. The weather service also reported six gusts exceeding 90 mph in its area.

There also was a report of a 104 mph gust at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport in Broomfield.

The National Weather Service in Boulder reported White Ranch Open Space near Boulder having a gust of 95 mph, Rocky Flats reaching 94 mph, Louisville 93 mph and Boulder 91 mph.

The National Weather Service in Pueblo said Wednesday was the latest it has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for its area.

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Northern Colorado hit with hurricane-force wind

A station near Buckeye north of Fort Collins reported a top gust of 86 mph. A station near Loveland reported a 79 mph gust, and Christman field on the northwest edge of Fort Collins had a gust of 72.2 mph, the strongest since 2015.

Winds were much stronger on the west sides of Loveland and Fort Collins than in the center of the cities.

Russ Schumacher, state climatologist, said the top gust recorded at the weather station on the CSU campus was 44 mph, the highest since November 2018.

Dylan McQuaid was listening to music in his living room late Wednesday morning when he felt the floor of his South Whitcomb Street home rumble.

“I thought my roommate was coming up the stairs as hard as he could,” 22-year-old McQuaid recalled Thursday, noting that the rumbling was soon followed by a loud crash. “Like a bomb went off,” he said.

The sound came from a tree that cracked and fell just before 11 a.m. during Wednesday’s high winds.

The downed tree took a casualty with it: a car that had been parked near McQuaid’s home. The car, which appeared crushed by the tree, belonged to an unlucky Colorado State University student who had parked on Whitcomb Street in order to walk to one of his final presentations of the semester, McQuaid said.

“He handled it like a champ,” McQuaid said, adding that the tree was cleared and the student’s car towed by around 4 p.m. Wednesday.

“Even though that guy’s car got messed up, it could have gone a lot worse,” McQuaid said, noting that the tree could have instead fallen on his house or a neighbor’s. “It could have been disastrous.”

DIA flight cancellations, delays number in the thousands

Denver International Airport reported 2,219 flight cancellations and 12,327 delays Wednesday, according to numbers available on Flight Aware Thursday morning.

Flights were pretty much back to normal Thursday with eight cancellations and 43 delays reported at 8 a.m.

Power outages impact tens of thousands across Colorado

Power outages impacting nearly 100,000 customers were reported from Pueblo to Fort Collins.

At the height of the storm, Xcel Energy reported around 61,000 Colorado customers without service.

Poudre Valley REA said in a Tweet early Thursday morning that about 1,100 customers were without service across its territory, including 250 in the Red Feather Lakes area. By Thursday afternoon, a little over 100 customers were still without power, according to a PVREA tweet.

Crews around the state were continuing to return service to customers.

Larimer County Road 38E along the southeastern edge of Horsetooth Reservoir was closed for more than 20 hours Wednesday and Thursday because of a downed utility line, forcing residents from hundreds of homes in the area to detour through Loveland to get to Fort Collins.

The CenturyLink utility line came down during Wednesday’s windstorm and was lying across the roadway, prompting the closure from Stout at the south end of the reservoir to Centennial Drive at Spring Canyon Dam, according to Larimer County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson David Moore.

The downed line was first reported at 4:46 p.m. Wednesday, prompting the road closure, Moore said.

A Coloradoan photographer observed workers installing a temporary utility pole along the closed road about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The road was reopened by 2 p.m., according to a tweet from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. A CenturyLink crew was still working in the area, the tweet said.

Fort Collins forecast includes less wind Thursday, over weekend

Now that Wednesday's wind storm is over, we are looking at getting back to more normal weather through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

Thursday: Sunny, with a high near 45 degrees, low around 21 and west wind 6 to 10 mph, gusting to 16 mph.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 42 and low a brisk 11 with west-northwest wind 10 to 18 mph, gusting to 30 mph.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 42, low around 20 with west wind 5 to 8 mph becoming south in the morning.

Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 54 and low around 25.

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Coloradoan reporters Erin Udell and Kelly Lyell contributed to this report.

Reporter Miles Blumhardt looks for stories that impact your life. Be it news, outdoors, sports — you name it, he wants to report it. Have a story idea? Contact him at or on Twitter @MilesBlumhardt. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado wind damage spread throughout state as speeds topped 100 mph