The Crestone Eagle, July 2005:

Moffat/Crestone hit by powerful wind storm—blows roof off school

by Keno

On Friday, June 3rd, Crestone and the surrounding area was hit by a freak wind/sand storm which caused some damage, especially in nearby Moffat. “It looked like a 1,000 foot high freight train rolling across the valley,” said Crestone resident Charlie Warren, as he watched the storm roll in. He also noted that, “It was very dense.” One long time rancher who has lived in the Valley for over 80 years, said she had never seen anything like that ever here.

The storm hit around 3pm and came in from the west, with wind gusts reported over 70 MPH in some parts of the northern San Luis Valley. In Moffat, parts of the school’s metal roof were blown off and ended up scattered all over town and on Highway 17. “We were lucky that school was already out,” said school superintendent Eli Dokson. “That metal roofing, when airborne, could have hurt somebody badly.”

The school lost its roof in two different sections: on the southeast side of the building the entire roof was gone except for one panel; and on the northwest side of the building where the gymnasium is located. The gym lost about a quarter of its roof in the storm—but then about a week later most of the remaining damaged roof also came down when a second wind storm hit. The building also suffered damage to roof vents and pipes leading to the roof, and to some play equipment in the playground. One car was reported damaged after being hit by a piece of the flying roof. Damage to the school is estimate at $50,000.

Most of the other damage was to several trees being uprooted, including a very old weeping willow in Moffat. Another report told of a pickup truck that was pulling an empty horse trailer and was blown off the road on Highway 17.

The storm also knocked out power in Crestone, and lightning from the storm shorted out the solar panel that relays info from the anemometer on my home’s weather station—which is one of Crestone’s two official weather stations. Our other weather station in town doesn’t have an anemometer. With that being the case, we have no way of knowing for sure the speed of the wind gusts with the storm, other than the reading taken just outside of Crestone at the Charter School, where the Weather Bug recorded its peak gust at 51 MPH. This was a true dust/sand windstorm, as only a few reported some drizzle with it.

This eastward traveling storm may have been part of the storm cells that caused tornado warnings in Pueblo, Colorado. That same afternoon, as a series of thunderstorms moved across the state, Denver was under a tornado warning and experienced heavy rain and flooding.