Tornado observed near Weston Pass fire in Colorado

Tornado Weston Pass Fire
Tornado near the Weston Pass Fire. Photo by Wellington Fire Department, @WellingtonFire1.

Wildland firefighters have enough to worry about,  but Thursday a tornado briefly touched down just south of the Weston Pass Fire, then while receding back into the cloud it moved directly over the fire.

Tornadoes are very rare in this part of the country. According to the National Weather Service office in Boulder, it was the 6th confirmed tornado in Park County since records began in 1950.

Chief Meteorologist/Climatologist for 11 News in Colorado Springs, said “No, this isn’t a firewhirl, it is a legit tornado produced by a thunderstorm that moved across the Weston Pass Fire.”

The Weston Pass Fire has burned about 13,000 acres 9 miles southwest of Fairplay, Colorado.

Tornado Weston Pass Fire
Tornado near the Weston Pass Fire. Photo by Wellington Fire Department, @WellingtonFire1.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Jason.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Map of multiple tornado paths in Moore, Oklahoma

(Originally published at 4:09 p.m. CT, May 21, 2013; see update below, May 22)

No doubt you have heard about the massive and very tragic tornado that devastated large sections of Moore, Oklahoma Monday. Our sincere condolences go out to those that are affected by the loss of life and property.

ESRI has put together the map below which not only shows the path of Monday’s tornado, but you can configure it to also show the paths of the two tornadoes that went through the town in 1999 and 2003 — click on “Layers”, then check the boxes. You may need to zoom out to see all three of them. (All three tornado paths may not display perfectly with Internet Explorer or a mobile device.)

Response of land management agencies and wildland firefighters

We are not aware of any large numbers of widland firefighters or Federal/State interagency incident management teams being assigned. If that changes, we’ll update this area in the article.

UPDATE at 8:58 a.m. CT, May 22, 2013:

There is still no word of large numbers of wildland firefighters or land management agency personnel being assigned to the incident. But here is what FEMA is mobilizing, as of 5:11 p.m. May 21:

  • Preliminary damage assessment teams, comprised of representatives from the state, FEMA and the Small Business Administration, are on the ground and will begin assessments today, and more counties and additional forms of assistance may be designated after the assessments are fully completed.
  • Three national Urban Search and Rescue Teams (Texas Task Force 1, Nebraska Task Force 1 and Tennessee Task Force 1) and an Incident Support Team have been deployed to support the immediate response efforts.
  • One national and two regional Incident Management Assistance Teams are deployed to the state emergency operations center in Oklahoma City to coordinate with state and local officials in support of recovery operations.
  • Two Mobile Emergency Response Support Teams are in Oklahoma to provide self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support elements, to assist in the immediate response needs and additional teams are being deployed.
  • Three Disaster Survivor Assistance Teams are scheduled to arrive later today into communities to perform the Assess, Inform, and Report (AIR) Missions, a tool to help federal, state, local, tribal and territorial partners gather detailed information on the affected areas during the critical first hours, days and weeks after a disaster strikes. DSATs will address immediate and emerging needs of disaster survivors including: on-site registration, applicant status checks, on-the-spot needs assessments, and access to partners offering survivor services.
  • FEMA activated the National Response Coordination Center in Washington, D.C., a multi-agency coordination center that provides overall coordination of the federal response to natural disasters and emergencies, to support state requests for assistance, and FEMA’s Region VI Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) located in Denton, Texas remains activated.

UPDATE at 4:43 p.m. CT, May 21, 2013: 

The National Park Service has two two Search and Rescue Liaison Officers assigned. One liaison is working with FEMA at the ESF#9 cell in DC, the other is deployed with the FEMA IST in Moore, OK. NPS has one FEMA Mission Assignment for SAR coordination and planning. The primary focus is on urban and wide-area search and rescue. All forces are still working in a “rescue” posture.

Information from FEMA

Below is information from FEMA about their response as of 5:30 a.m. ET Tuesday:


“In response, the Oklahoma EOC fully activated to Level I and the President declared Major Disaster Declaration FEMA-4117-DR for the State of Oklahoma.

FEMA Region VI RRCC is activated to Level II, with a regional IMAT and LNOs deployed to Oklahoma’s SEOC. Additionally, the Regional Administrator remains in contact with State officialsTwo (2) Individual Assistance (IA), Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)Teams arrived at 1:15 a.m. EDT, May 21, 2013. Denton MERS is deploying one (1) mobile emergency operations vehicle (MEOV) and one (1) initial response vehicle (IRV).

FEMA’s NRCC is activated to Level II (w/ESFs, 1-3, 6-9, 15 and all LNOs). National IMAT-White is activated and deploying to Oklahoma. FEMA Logistics ADVON and Main Body ISB personnel and ISB equipment cache will deploy to Will Roger Airport (Haggar Facility), Oklahoma City, OK. Urban Search and Rescue Task Task Forces TX-TF1, NE-TF1 & TN-TF1 are activated/deploying to Will Roger Airport (Haggar Facility), Oklahoma City, OK.”