A look back at the deadly Colorado tornadoes of November 1922

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Details of the rare November tornadoes have been resurfaced by a CSU climatologist.

FORT COLLINS, Colorado – A pair of tornadoes touched down in Colorado on November 4, 1922.

The tornadoes were the last tornadoes ever documented in the state. There has never been a documented tornado in December or January in Colorado.

That’s not the only thing that made these tornadoes so unusual. They also struck in the morning and they were both killers.

Data shows that 92% of all tornadoes in Colorado since 1955 have occurred between noon and midnight.

The 1922 tornadoes killed six people, the second deadliest day in Colorado tornado history. The last deadly tornado in the state was the 2008 Windsor tornado.

The stories of this tragic tornado outbreak faded over the past century and were nearly lost in the layers of history until recently uncovered by Colorado State University (CSU) climatologist Russ Schumacher. ).

“For someone who studies this stuff for a living, it was especially exciting to dig into those history books and see how people were talking about it,” Schumacher said. “The newspaper articles were particularly detailed and personal.”

He used the reference book Important tornadoes 1680-1991, as a base of information then launched into the archives of press clippings from the beginning of November 1922.

“And so the main stories were: the election, so there were reports of who won the different elections, and then his tornado kills four people in southeast Colorado,” Schumacher said.

Newspapers reported that a family of four was killed in Sugar City, east of Pueblo. Then a few hours later two more were killed east of Holyoke.

There were no radars or satellites or even a way to quickly communicate a weather forecast. The people of Colorado in November 1922 were probably taken completely by surprise.

Schumacher took what little weather data there was at that time and recreated the weather to see what kind of warning today’s technology might have provided.

“And it actually turned out really well, I was a little surprised how well it matched the storm tracks, at least as well as we know them from these reports,” Schumacher said.

Clearly unusual circumstances, but strong tornadoes would have been predicted at least a day in advance.

Schumacher says there’s a lesson for all of us in the uncovered story of this rare storm: never take your eyes off the Colorado weather.

“The atmosphere made it happen once, and that probably means it could happen again at some point in the future.”

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