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Hurricane-force winds possible along Front Range Wednesday

Gusts may reach 60 to 80 mph, with up to 100 mph in wind-prone areas
Posted at 9:56 AM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 08:35:57-05

UPDATE: We have updated this story with NWS data from Wednesday morning. Click here to read our latest story.


Colorado's Front Range, foothills, and plains may see hurricane-force and tropical storm-force winds on Wednesday as a strong storm system moves across the state.

Multiple high wind warnings will go into effect on Wednesday morning.

The initial blast of strong winds will come through the Front Range between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., with the peak gusts in the late morning into the afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.

Damaging winds on Dec 15 2021_NWS

Much of the following counties will be under a warning for high wind starting at 8 a.m. on Wednesday through 5 p.m.:

  • Larimer County
  • Boulder County
  • Jefferson County
  • Douglas County
  • Gilpin County
  • Clear Creek County
  • Park County
  • Weld County
  • Denver County
  • Adams County
  • Morgan County
  • Lincoln County
  • Logan County
  • Washington County
  • Arapahoe County
  • Elbert County
  • Sedgwick County
  • Phillips County
  • Broomfield County

This includes the cities of Denver, Lakewood, Aurora, Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Brighton, Greeley, Arvada, Golden, Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Boulder, Nederland Loveland, Fort Collins, Estes Park, Longmont, Evergreen, Bailey, Fairplay, South Park, Bennett, Fort Lupton, Kiowa, Eaton, Deer Trail, Haxtun, Parker, Castle Rock, Limon, Brush, Central City, Red Feather Lakes and the surrounding areas.

Wind in these areas will blow 30 to 50 mph with gusts between 60 and 80 mph. Wind-prone places in and near the foothills may see gusts as strong as 100 mph, the NWS reports. Hurricane-force winds are defined as gusts above 74 mph and tropical storm-force winds range from 39 mph to 73 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

This wind will be strong enough to blow down trees and power lines, which may cause widespread power outages. NWS recommends securing any loose outdoor objects.

Xcel Energy said it will be staging crews in the area to quickly restore power if wind gusts take out lines. If it leads to power outages, customers can report them in the following ways:

  • The Xcel Energy mobile app
  • Online
  • Text "OUT" to 98936 to report, or text "STAT" to the same number to check the status of a power outage
  • Call 1-800-895-1999 and follow the prompts

This will also become a problem on the roads, where high-profile vehicles may get blown around.

Blowing dust will reduce visibility to less than a quarter of a mile in some places, NWS said.

READ MORE: Delays, closures, cancelations ahead of high wind warning in Colorado

Winds will weaken slightly as you move farther south into Fremont, Teller and El Paso counties. West winds will blow 35 to 45 mph with gusts 60 to 70 mph. The high wind warning is in effect from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Drivers should expect strong cross winds on Interstate 25.

The southeast Colorado plains are under the same warning from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday for 35 to 50 mph winds and gusts between 60 and 80 mph.

The warning will start a bit earlier — at 4 a.m. — around the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range, the Wet Mountain Range, and the Wet Mountain Valley. Winds will blow 30 to 50 mph there, with gusts 60 to 80 mph. Blowing snow will be prevalent on roads in these areas.

The San Luis Valley is under a high wind warning from 6 a.m. until noon Wednesday for southwest winds blowing 35 to 45 mph with gusts up to 65 mph.

These dry and windy conditions across the entire eastern half of the state will create critical fire weather on the plains.