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Burst of wind causes power outage, fells trees in Cortez

Trees downed during wind burst

Some Cortez residents experienced a power outage and falling trees on Labor Day afternoon, thanks to a brief but intense windstorm.

Cortez meteorologist Jim Andrus said at least one microburst caused high-speed winds on the northeast side of town between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Several residents along North Mildred Road and Empire Street reported losing power during that time, and said trees toppled in their neighborhoods.

Gail Binkly said she was at her residence on Alma Avenue during the storm. She said she didn’t notice rain or thunder, just a sudden burst of wind.

“It was not very long, but it was intense while it lasted,” she said.

A few trees blew down on her street, she said, including one that landed on her own property, but they didn’t appear to cause much damage. Most of the debris had been hauled away by Tuesday morning, but fallen branches were still scattered around Centennial Park and several residences near North Mildred Road and East Empire Street.

Andrus said the wind was a “very localized event” that wasn’t part of a larger storm. Conditions in Southwest Colorado were favorable on Monday for localized windstorms like this, he said, and meteorologists in Grand Junction reported a similar event in that area.

Andrus said the highest wind speed his weather station recorded was a 32 mph gust in the afternoon.

“But to knock down trees, you need speeds in at least the 60-to-70 range,” he said.

Based on information from the National Weather Service station in Grand Junction, the wind appeared to move through Cortez from north to south, affecting about 2 miles of town.

Southwest Memorial Hospital was near the center of the microburst, but Southwest Health System’s marketing director, Haley Leonard Saunders, said it didn’t cause major problems.

Andy Carter, of Empire Electric Association, said power was cut in northeast Cortez for about three hours after branches fell onto power lines, but repairs were made Monday evening.

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