Forecasters warn Colorado to brace for more severe weather
DENVER (AP) — Colorado is in for a few more days of violent storms and unstable weather, forecasters said Saturday. But the good news is that the storms are moving too quickly to cause widespread flooding.
The state was braced for at least two more nights of walloping rain, strong winds and isolated tornadoes.
A third night of severe storms ripped across Colorado late Friday, downing tree branches and leaving about 12,000 in the Denver metro area without power.
At least six tornadoes were spotted Friday afternoon and evening in southern and eastern Colorado, National Weather Service meteorologist Chad Gimmestad said. All were in rural areas and caused little damage and no injuries, he said.
The nasty weather was expected to extend into Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa on Saturday and Sunday. The weather service says the highest potential for severe storms is in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.
In Colorado, the storms were likely to decrease in intensity Saturday and Sunday, tapering off early next week, Gimmestad said.
“There’s still a threat of severe storms and flooding through the weekend, but not as much of a threat,” he said.
The storms have been moving too quickly to cause more than isolated flooding, he said.
“We’ve had reports of places getting half an inch of rain in half an hour, and that’s about as much as the storm drains can handle, but then the rain moves on,” Gimmestad said.
Still, the swollen rivers and torrential rains have left residents nervously watching the skies.
“The rivers are generally full and it’s going to be like this at least a couple more weeks. So any rain that falls is going to be on top of that and we could see some minor flooding,” Gimmestad said.
No serious injuries have been reported.
The storms that began overnight Thursday were the result of the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific Ocean, an upper-level jet stream and a low-pressure system parked over Southern California. The factors have combined to deliver moisture from the Gulf of Mexico into Colorado and southern Wyoming.
Thursday’s storms damaged at least a dozen homes in northern and eastern Colorado and left some campers scrambling for safety.
Residents near the damaged homes were helping neighbors clean up while the weather was clear.
In Johnstown, about 60 miles north of Denver, resident Devony Bethel was amazed at a basement left open after the home above was destroyed.
She pointed out some small items left intact, while the structure was ripped apart.
“It’s amazing how you can take the house, but leave the Tupperware,” she told the (Boulder) Daily Camera (http://bit.ly/1FFv5dz). “How do you leave the Tupperware?”
Cleanup extended into eastern Wyoming, where flash floods swept through Lusk early Thursday. A bridge washed out on the major road through the community of about 1,500 people.
Elsewhere, heavy rainfall caused some flash flooding in eastern Montana on Saturday morning.