Have you ever found yourself driving through Colorado, listening to your favorite song on the radio, only to have it interrupted by that loud, buzzing noise and a voice saying, "The National Weather Service has issued a high wind advisory for the following counties..."? That’s how we get important weather warnings, like when strong winds are coming.

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In Colorado, the National Weather Service (NWS) has specific rules for when they issue wind warnings. These warnings help keep us safe by letting us know when the wind might get dangerous. How windy does it have to get in Colorado before a high wind advisory gets issued?

Recent High Winds In Colorado

There's a high probability you spent part of last weekend (June 22 and 23, 2024) rooting through your neighbor's yard on a quest for shingles ripped from your roof following the weekend's high winds.

Then again, you may have spent a measurable portion of the weekend seeking shelter in your car while waiting to get into County Jam Colorado. The rough weather on Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21, 2024, wreaked havoc on thousands of concertgoers.

Grand Junction, Colorado Wind on June 20, 2024

According to a report from NPR, Tom Renwick, a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service, described Thursday's storm as “incredible.” Renwick, who was at the National Weather Service office at Grand Junction Regional Airport on Thursday, June 20, 2024, said wind gusts in Grand Junction, Colorado reached speeds of 64 mph.

Wind Advisories In Colorado

According to the National Weather Service's "Definition, Thresholds, Criteria for Warnings, Watches, and Advisories," a Wind Advisory is the first level of alert. This is issued when the wind is strong enough to be a nuisance or cause minor damage. The NWS will put out a Wind Advisory if:

  • The wind is blowing at a sustained speed of 31 to 39 miles per hour for an hour or more.
  • The wind is gusting (suddenly increasing in speed) between 46 and 57 miles per hour at any time.
  • So, if you hear a Wind Advisory, it’s time to be cautious. These winds can make it hard to walk, especially if you're carrying something like an umbrella, and can knock over trash cans or tree branches.
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High Wind Warning

A high Wind Warning is more serious. This warning is issued when the wind is strong enough to cause significant damage or be a danger to life and property. The NWS will issue a High Wind Warning if:

  • The wind is blowing at a sustained speed of 40 miles per hour or more for an hour or longer.
  • The wind is gusting at 58 miles per hour or higher at any time.
  • When you hear a High Wind Warning, you should stay indoors and secure any loose items outside. These winds can knock down trees and power lines, cause power outages, and make driving very dangerous.

High Wind Watch

A High Wind Watch is a heads-up that conditions might get bad in the next day or two. This watch is issued when there is a possibility that the wind could reach the criteria for a High Wind Warning. It's a signal to start preparing and paying closer attention to the weather updates.

Why Are These Warnings Important?

These warnings from the NWS are crucial because they help us prepare for dangerous weather. Strong winds can cause accidents and damage, but if you know they’re coming, you can take steps to stay safe. Always pay attention to weather alerts and follow any safety advice given.

Next time you hear that Emergency Alert System buzzing in on your radio, remember that it could be giving you important information about the weather. Knowing what each type of wind warning means can help you stay safe during windy days in Colorado.

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