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Rare Early Morning Colorado Microburst Slams Limon

DENVER (CBS4) - Microbursts are far from unusual weather phenomenon in Colorado. But what happened in Limon early Monday was not common.

A microburst is a narrow column of sinking air -- usually less than 2 miles wide -- within a thunderstorm. As the air descends from the thunderstorm and hits the ground, wind fans out horizontally in all directions. They happen every year in Colorado usually in the spring and summer and sometimes cause damage.

But since the vast majority of thunderstorms in our state occur after 12 p.m. and before midnight, that's the usual threat for microbursts when conditions are ideal for their development (very dry, warm air under the thunderstorm).

So it was certainly unusual when the airport in Limon 90 miles east of Denver first reported a 14 degree temperature jump in just 20 minutes followed by a 67 mph wind gust just before 2:30 a.m. Monday.

(source: CBS)

At 1:55 a.m. the temperature at the Limon airport was 68 degrees. Just 20 minutes later it was 82 degrees at 2:15 a.m. Such a dramatic rise in temperature is a called a "heat burst." And while the temperature quickly climbed, the dew point (a measure of moisture in the air) remained steady. This burst of dry heat helped set the stage for the mircoburst that occurred about 10 minutes later.

The Limon Police Department reported several hangers at the airport were damaged and one hanger was "completely destroyed".

Additional thunderstorms are expected to develop in Colorado later in the day Monday but additional severe weather is not expected. The bigger story for the Denver metro area will be the drop in temperatures compared to the weekend. Instead of highs in the 90s - Denver tied a record with 98 degrees on Sunday - most areas will stop in the 80s on Monday. The change is a result of the same summer cold front responsible for the thunderstorms that caused the microburst in Limon.

(source: CBS)
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