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Colorado Severe Weather Awareness Week: Tornado Season Is Around The Corner

DENVER (CBS4) - When you talk to someone about the weather in Colorado most people will probably mention snow. But believe it or not tornadoes are actually very common too.

Colorado tornadoes can occur anytime between February and November but they're most common between late May and August east of Interstate 25. There is a myth that a tornado can't occur in the mountains but that is false. A tornado touched down on the side of Mount Evans in July 2012.

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Jim Glab of Boulder sent in this photo of a tornado near Mount Evans on July 18.

Colorado averages 53 tornadoes annually and they are most common in Weld County. In fact Weld County records more tornadoes on average than any other county in the United States.

A tornado can occur at any hour of the day in Colorado but they are most common between 1 pm and 8 pm. Most Colorado tornadoes are weak and short-lived but every so often we can see a large tornado.

On May 22, 2008, a rare EF-3 tornado touched down in northern Colorado and traveled for 39 miles. It injured 78 people and killed one person. The storm was very unusual for many reasons, including the time of day it happened and its size. The at times one mile wide tornado touched down before noon and it traveled in a northwest direction.

windsor tornado (3)
(credit: CBS)

If a tornado threatens your area remember to get inside a sturdy building on the lowest floor and find the most interior room possible. Bathrooms, closets and hallways typically offer the best protection. The goal is to be in a place without windows or exterior walls. If an underground shelter is available that is the best place to be.

Once you find a safe place get down low and be sure to cover your head. If possible get under a sturdy piece of furniture. Most tornado injuries are due to either flying debris or a collapsed structure.

If you live in a modular or mobile home you will want to have a safer location picked out before a storm strikes because those structures are no match for the fierce winds around a tornado. About 50% of all U.S. tornado deaths are linked to mobile homes.

(credit: NOAA)

If you are driving and get caught in a tornado do not try to outrun it because they can travel up to 60 mph. Instead drive away from the tornado's path at a right angle if time allows. If caught on a highway never seek shelter beneath a highway overpass. Instead abandon your vehicle and lay low in a ditch while protecting your head. If you have to remain in your car make sure you crouch below window level and leave your seatbelt on in case the car rolls.

(credit: NOAA)

If you are caught outside and cannot find a safe shelter then crawl into a culvert or lie flat in a ditch while covering your head. Be aware that tornadic thunderstorms can also produce heavy rain that leads to flash flooding so you may have more than one danger to worry about if you're seeking shelter in a culvert or ditch.

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