June 22, 2023–a tornado touched down in Highlands Ranch at 3;23 pm, causing a wide area of destruction! Larry Cooper, Highlands Ranch resident compiled some initial preliminary reports and stats on the very rare tornado, which showed that:
Rating: EF-1 Peak Wind: 97 MPH Path: 6.3 Miles Width: ¼ Mile
Major damage could be seen along the tornadoes path, primarily along Highlands Ranch parkway from Lucent Boulevard to Colorado Blvd, and along Broadway south of C-470.
Among the areas damaged included:
Hundreds of trees! Very noticeable along Broadway and at the historic Mansion.
All Recreation Center Facilities at HRCA were closed for “immediate maintenance needs” following the tornado and remained closed for days afterward.
Valor Christian High School sustained approximately $2 million in damages.
Northridge Elementary, where parts of the roof were ripped off. Screenshot Photo from Fox 31 News
South Metro Fire Rescue Station 17, where portions of the roof were torn off.
Hundreds of calls for help were received by the Douglas County Sheriff’s office and South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR) which received 116 call for help between 3-5 pm. “People thinking that their homes or businesses were struck by lightning, smoke conditions inside of some of those buildings, fire alarm activations, natural gas leaks,” Eric Hurst of SMFR said.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office emergency line received 282 calls. “Trees down across roads, trees down into homes and some roofs damaged,” spokesperson Deborah Takahara said.
Initial TV and news reports were dramatic, here is one from KDVR, Fox 31.
The following day, Douglas County declared an emergency for the affected areas. Read more HERE “The County has issued a disaster declaration to open the door for state support,” said Commissioner Abe Laydon. “In the meantime, we are working with the Highlands Ranch community to provide tree debris drop-off sites.”
The Highlands Ranch Metro District also was highly involved in helping residents following the storm, providing tree limb help and crisis intervention.
Jamie Noebel, HRCA Director of Community Events and Relations stated ” Here are a few pictures. Looks like many of these big trees down were some of the original community plantings, I know the ones in my area were. And some of those at the Mansion are probably closer to 80- 100 years. It just breaks my heart. But as everyone has been saying, fortunately there were no reported injuries and minimal damage to homes.”
Just a few days following the tornado, the resilient Highlands Ranch community was hard at work, repairing the damage and helping one another.
Thank you to all who contributed information to the HRHS regarding this HISTORIC storm.
As the weeks and months go by, we will provide updates. Forrest Dykstra with Highlands Ranch Metro District and a Board Member of HRHS remarked “Since the emergency response and discussions with FEMA were conducted with public agencies (Douglas County, HRMD, SMFR etc) those agencies is where we should get follow up info from. Since I work with some of those agencies very closely I can take a stab at it. I also have a connection at Valor and they had around $2M in damage.” Stay tuned.