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Tornado Watch Vs Tornado Warning

  • Published
  • Updated
  • by City Manager

Colorado has its share of tornadoes. Weld County reports more tornado sightings than any other county in the country. This isn't due to unusual weather patterns in northeast Colorado or bad luck. Weld County is huge, larger than some states, and our normal afternoon thunderstorms often produce tornadoes that are reported more often than in the past due to our increasing rural population. Tornadoes have occurred at all times of the year in Colorado and almost all Colorado counties have experienced tornadoes. This includes the mountains.

On average, there are 60 tornadoes deaths each year in the United States. We in Colorado tend to experience weak tornadoes (F0 - F2 on the Fujita Tornado Damage Scale of F0 – F6), but even weak tornadoes can produce wind speeds of up to 157 miles per hour. Winds of this velocity can cause significant damage to homes, overturn vehicles and uproot trees. The greatest danger is from flying objects and glass from broken windows.

As always, there are ways to keep yourself and your family safe from tornadic winds. Heed tornado and other weather related watches and warnings from the National Weather Service. If a tornado "watch" is issued for your area, it means that a tornado is "possible." If a tornado "warning" is issued, it means that a tornado has actually been spotted or is strongly indicated on radar, and it is time to go to a safe shelter immediately.

Steps to take in the case of a Tornado Warning include:

  • If you are inside, go to the basement if one is available or to the interior of the building to protect yourself from glass and other flying objects.

  • If you are outside, go into a nearby sturdy building or lie flat in a ditch or low-lying area.

  • If you are in a car or mobile home, get out immediately and head for safety (as above).

Weather alerts come to the citizens of Arvada in many forms. The local media will report tornado activity and you can sign up with several news stations to receive weather alerts on your cell phone.  Emergency alerts may also be broadcast over KYGO (98.5 FM) and KOA (850 AM) radio. These are the designated EAS (Emergency Alert System) radio stations for the Denver metro area.

The City of Arvada does not have an outdoor warning system (sirens). A better option for you and your family is to own a weather radio. When set, weather radios will turn themselves on, sound an alarm and then provide detailed weather information for your area. Weather radios are inexpensive and can be purchased from many different retailers.

As mentioned above, no matter how you receive weather information…heed the warnings and seek shelter if conditions become dangerous.