Four tornadoes touched down in Colorado Thursday. Two caused moderate or severe damage to 32 homes in Elbert County, on the plains southeast of Denver. County officials said two homes lost roofs and others had broken windows but they were still assessing the total damage Friday.
Laura Van Why said she and her husband Dennis, along with their 2-year-old son and two dogs, hid under the stairs of their basement while the storm passed around near Kiowa.
"It felt like forever," Van Why said. "It was like black out the windows."
She said they could hear windows shattering and saw glass flying around the basement. When they went upstairs a half hour later, they saw that most of the windows in the back of the house were shattered.
Meanwhile, 2.5-inch hail was reported in El Paso County near Peterson Air Force Base.
Bernie Meier, a weather service meteorologist in Boulder, said a storm that crossed into the state from Wyoming hit the Greeley area with large hail. The Greeley Tribune (http://bit.ly/L8GjxY ) reported that crops were damaged and some residents awoke Friday to the smell of onions, which were pelleted by hail.
Thursday's storms came as Colorado businesses were cleaning up the mess after a storm system brought about five tornadoes, hail up to 8 inches deep and heavy rain Wednesday night. No serious damage was reported from the tornadoes Wednesday, but snowplows were called out in Douglas County to clear hail, and firefighters in Colorado Springs rescued about 40 people from flooded cars and homes.
Insurers reported receiving several hundred home and automobile claims in Colorado before the new wave of storms arrived Thursday.
The twisters were part of a powerful storm system that rolled through parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Thursday, packing heavy rains, high winds and hail. The storms followed a round of nasty late spring weather that pummeled the region Wednesday.
A rare quarter-mile-wide tornado cut a swath across mainly open country in southeastern Wyoming, ripping off roofs and shingles, destroying outbuildings and derailing empty train cars.
Kim Eike said Friday she was working at First State Bank in Wheatland, Wyo. when the tornado hit her property about 8 miles south of town. She and her co-workers were watching it when one woman pointed out it was near Eike's house.
She said the tornado went right over her house, which was still standing, though battered.
"We lost a camper, it blew out the windows in our house, blew off the shingles clear down to the plywood, but we didn't lose the roof. We lost our pig barn, and we lost off our big barn, just the door off the barn. How that happened, I don't know why we didn't lose the whole barn. All the trees around our place are down," she said.
Eike said that no one in her family was home at the time. She said that one couple in another house in the area rode out the storm in the basement.
Hail the size of golf balls was reported in the Wheatland area, and 2-inch hail was reported in Laramie, National Weather Service meteorologist Tim Trudel said.
The rain provided some help to firefighters who fully contained a 227-acre wildfire in northern Colorado, but the weather initially hurt efforts to control a 6,000-acre blaze in Wyoming's Medicine Bow National Forest.
Storms passed close to the Wyoming fire but mostly brought gusty winds that fanned the flames. Rain and hail fell later and slowed the growth of the fire but were not enough to put it out.
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