'Carousel of tornadoes:' Storm chaser recalls Colorado's historic day

On June 21, 2023, 37 tornadoes touched down in Colorado, setting a new state record for a single day. AccuWeather Meteorologist Tony Laubach had a front-row seat to one of his best storm chases ever.

Tornado after tornado ripped through the state, most touching down just south of the small town of Akron in Washington County, 100 miles northeast of Denver.

The first twister was relatively benign.

"It was a little tube that went east to west across Highway 63. It was so weak that it rolled over the power lines without damaging them," Laubach explained.

Then things got exciting for the storm chaser.

Two tornadoes spin near Akron, Colorado on June 21, 2023. (AccuWeather/Tony Laubach)

Two tornadoes spin near Akron, Colorado on June 21, 2023. (AccuWeather/Tony Laubach)

"A massive tornado touched down right in front of my car," Laubach recounted. "As it churned across the open ranchland, a twin tornado whipped out from behind it -- a satellite tornado. Then, a smaller, third tornado touched down in the distance. We had triplets!"

The larger tornado was one of three twisters rated EF2. It blocked Highway 63 by knocking down power lines.

Next, what Laubach described as a "carousel of tornadoes" descended from the supercell thunderstorm over the next hour. Some of the twisters were rope tornadoes, others were large wedge tornadoes, but some lasted just a few seconds.

"Not only was this one for the record books, but for me, it went down as the best storm chaser in my 20-plus-year career!" Laubach declared.

Tracks of the tornado swarm south of Akron, Colorado on June 21, 2023. (NWS)

Tracks of the tornado swarm south of Akron, Colorado on June 21, 2023. (NWS)

Laubach witnessed 19 tornadoes that day, but the Washington County storm produced 27 twisters in total, with 10 more tornadoes touching down from other thunderstorms that day.

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