One of Denver’s most devastating hailstorms happened 30 years ago —

Hailstone formation.

I was working for a software company 30 years ago when this storm swept across the Denver Metro area from Boulder to my office near County Line Road and I-25. The storm just missed my house in North Denver (all of my neighbors got new roofs) and then travelled out to Douglas County and bashed my car into a golf ball looking mess. I remember one of my colleagues’ wife coming into the office quite upset. She had gotten caught on the road as it bashed out the back window of their SUV. From (Cory Reppenhagen):

On July 11, 1990, a thunderstorm gave Colorado a new definition of how bad a hailstorm could be.

The storm took a very unusual path, coming from the north and clinging to the west of Interstate-25 all the way to El Paso County. It hit peak intensity over the west Denver metro area.

Golf ball to baseball size hail slammed a large portion of the Denver area. Boulder, Arvada, Wheat Ridge, Golden and Lakewood took the heaviest damage.

At the time, the $625 million in damage far surpassed a June 1984 storm, which was also in the Denver metro area, as Colorado’s most damaging hailstorm.

When adjusted to 2020 dollars, the damage from the July 1990 storm stands at $1.23 billion, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. That benchmark that would stand atop the list of Colorado’s most damaging hailstorms until May 8, 2017, when a even more destructive storm caused $2.4 billion (adjusted for 2020) in damage…

July has been historically a bad hail month for Colorado, but then again, what month hasn’t?

The now most destructive storm happened in May. Four of the top 10 worst hailstorms in the state happened in June. The record largest hailstone ever recorded in our state fell in August last year. We typically say that a hailstorm like the one in July 1990, can happen any day between May 1, and the end of September, but there was even a rouge hailstorm on October 1, 1994 that still stands as the Colorado’s 10th most destructive hailstorm.

New Colorado records in 2019. Credit: Becky Bollinger/Colorado Climate Center

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