If you’ve ever experienced severe weather in Colorado, you’re probably familiar with how much catastrophic damage it can cause. From softball size hail to extreme wildfires to heavy snowfall, the weather in Colorado is pretty unpredictable and often, unforgettable. Between the various mountain ranges and rugged terrain, the weather can vary greatly within just a few short miles.
According to the official Insurance Industry, a natural or man-made disaster is named as “catastrophic” when insurance claims total up to $25 million or more in damages. Here’s a list of a few catastrophic events in Colorado and some that came close.
1. Tornado Hits Limon; $20 million; June 1990 – A devastating tornado ripped through Limon, Colorado causing an estimated $20 million in damages, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
2. Hailstorm in Colorado Springs; $625 million; July 1990 – According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, a massive hail storm caused roughly $625 million in estimated damages across Colorado. Golf-ball to baseball-sized hail was reported.
3. Widespread Wildfires; $70.3 million; 2002 – The 2002 Iron Mountain, Coal Seam, Missionary Ridge and Hayman Fires in Colorado total estimated costs of $70.3 million in insured losses, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
4. Winter Storm; $93 million; March 2003 – Summit Daily reports that one of the most expensive winter storms in Colorado history occurred in March 2003. Nearly 3 feet of snow caused Colorado Interstate 70 to shut down for 2 days due to avalanche risk and icy conditions. With 28,000 claims file, the damage from the storm was estimated to be more than $93 million.
5. Tornado Hits Windsor; $224.2 million; May 2008 – A mile-wide tornado touched down in Windsor, Colorado causing an estimated $224.2 million in insured losses, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.
6. Fourmile Canyon Fire; $217 million; September 2010 – Just northwest of Boulder, Colorado in the foothills, The Fourmile Canyon fire caused an estimated $217 million in damage from insurance claims that included smoke damage, living expenses, and loss of personal belongings and vehicles. The fire destroyed a total of 169 homes. According to Wildfire Today, of those 169 homes, 157 were destroyed in the first 12 hours.
7. Waldo Canyon Fire; $453 million; June 2012 – The Waldo Canyon Fire of 2012 is believed to be the most expensive wildfire in Colorado history. It burned 347 homes and 18,247 acres, which led to more than $453 million in insured losses. According to The Colorado Springs Gazette, more than 32,000 people were evacuated.
8. High Park Fire; $113.7 million; June 2012 – Destroying 259 homes and burning 87,415 acres for almost an entire month, The High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colorado led to 1,293 insurance claims and nearly $113.7 million in insurance costs. Recent reports from The United States Department of Agriculture stated that the fire was ignited by lightning strike.
9. Black Forest Fire; $420 million; June 2013 – The Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs, Colorado resulted in mass destruction. According to a report released by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, the fire burned 489 houses, 14,280 acres, and resulted in estimated insured losses of $420 million. While the actual cause of the fire remains unknown with natural causes such as heat and lightning were ruled out by investigators.
10. Hailstorm Hits Denver Area; $2.3 billion; May 2017 – In May of 2017, Colorado was hit by its most damaging hailstorm, generating $2.3 billion in damage from a total of 267,000 claims in the Denver area, report the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. The storm ranked as the state’s most expensive insured disaster in history.
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