DENVER (CBS4) – When you picture Colorado’s Rocky Mountains you probably think of epic snow before a tornado.

But mountain tornadoes happen more than you might think.

It’s a myth that hills or mountains offer protection from tornadoes.

6% of all Colorado tornadoes since 1950 have touched down in counties that lie west of Interstate 25.

One of the most dramatic ever caught on camera touched down at nearly 12,000 feet on the side of Mount Evans on July 28, 2012.

It was the highest tornado ever recorded in Colorado and the second highest in the United States.

The 2012 tornado near Mount Evans (credit: Facebook)

The 2012 tornado near Mount Evans (credit: Facebook)

More recently several tornadoes touched down in Park and Teller counties on June 8, 2014.

One of the twisters was at an altitude of almost 10,000 feet.

A half-dozen homes were damaged near Fairplay.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Mountain tornadoes are most common in June and July but have been documented during every month except November, December and January.

The earliest mountain tornado in Colorado’s modern record touched down in Custer County on Feb. 13, 1954.

It was rated an F1 and was on the ground for a half mile.

The latest was in Mesa County on Oct. 17, 2004.

It was rated an F0 and was on the ground for 7.5 miles.

Since 1980 there have been about 30 high-country tornadoes per decade.

While most mountain tornadoes are weak and short-lived there have been 11 since 1950 that were considered strong, meaning they were given a rating of 2 or higher on the Fujita/Enhanced Fujita Scale.

There has only been one person ever reported to be injured by a high-altitude tornado in Colorado.

It happened in Montrose County on May 6, 2005 when an F1 tornado touched down and traveled 0.3 miles.

Most high-altitude tornadoes spend very little time on the ground but of the 127 documented nine have traveled at least five miles.

The highest mountain tornado path recorded in Colorado was 19.9 miles.

That tornado touched down in the San Luis Valley, north of Center in Saguache County, on June 10, 1980.

Newspaper archives provided of a tornado in Saguache County on June 10, 1980. (credit: Adams State University)

Newspaper archives provided of a tornado in Saguache County on June 10, 1980. (credit: Adams State University)

Newspaper archives provided of a tornado in Saguache County on June 10, 1980. (credit: Adams State University)

Newspaper archives provided of a tornado in Saguache County on June 10, 1980. (credit: Adams State University)

Meteorologist Chris Spears writes about stories related to weather and climate in Colorado. Check out his bio or follow him on Twitter @ChrisCBS4.

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