Colorado Tornado: What is a Landspout?

Dozens of people near Colorado captured photos and videos of a tornado near Denver Monday evening. Colorado is no stranger to severe weather or more specifically tornadoes – averaging 16 a year. Unlike tornadoes spawned in the midwest or even southeast from supercell storms. This tornado was likely a landspout.

Landspouts are formed from growing thunderstorms and lack a rotating parent storm. Due to the changing of winds at the surface from some sort of boundary due to the terrain in areas like Colorado, the air close to the surface began to rotate and got caught up in the updraft from a developing thunderstorm. From there it is stretched to the base of the storm, spinning faster as it stretched into a rope-like column.

The cloud base is much higher, and Colorado’s relatively dry climate allowed better views of the tornado before any rain fell from the storm. These storms are usually short-lived and relatively weak. However, landspouts can still cause damage, injuries, and even loss of life. Livestock was killed in this tornado and several structures have been damaged. The National Weather Service will be surveying the damage Tuesday to confirm the intensity of this tornado.

It is a good reminder that even ‘weak’ storms can change your life forever. Make sure to always have a plan and heed all warnings during severe weather.