Apr 28, 2011 11:30 PM by Matt Stafford

On the edge of Tornado Alley

Watching images of destruction from tornadoes in the Southeast United States can make you wonder; could a major tornado happen here?

The damage they can do is devastating. Every year tornadoes pop up in Colorado.

"We're right on the edge of Tornado Alley," says News First 5 Meteorologist Mike Madson, but he says usually our storms aren't as severe as in other places. "They're strong enough to do a little damage. They don't last for very long; they hit and they get."

Occasionally a tornado will turn into a big one, like one in June of 1979 in Manitou Springs. Some people don't think tornadoes form in the mountains, but according to Madson they can form anywhere, and this one came right down Ute Pass.

"It hit that 7/11 right then, and it took the back wall out," recalls Dan Goodwin, who saw the tornado come through.

Also against the beliefs of some, tornadoes will also travel over water.

"That is huge!" one boater yelled out as he filmed a large funnel coming out of 11-Mile Reservoir in August of 2007.

A year later, near the same area, a tornado formed over Lake George in August 2009.

"When I first saw it I was like oh, there's a tornado, and then it hit me that there's actually a tornado on Lake George so I reached back and grabbed my camera," said eyewitness Michael Anthony.

The Lake George storm did damage, but not like other communities have seen.

In June of 1990, the town of Limon saw an F-3 tornado. 14 people were hurt and buildings were leveled around town. Last summer, locals recognized 20 years since the devastating storm.

"I think we had a tornado in Holly," emergency responders said over the radio in March of 2007. A storm in Prowers County took out more than a third of the homes in Holly and killed two people.

"The lights went out, then we just heard this big rumble and roar and that was it," a volunteer helping with the cleanup efforts in 2007 told News First 5.

The next year, in May of 2008, the community of Windsor in northern Colorado saw heavy damage from a storm that killed one person.

"We heard the windows breaking and everything," described a local resident at the time. "It's scary."

So if you hear people saying they're safe from tornadoes because they live in Colorado, tell them to think again.

If you want to look back at storms on your own, you can find more through the Tornado History Project. To get there, click on this link.


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