- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 22, 2008

WINDSOR, Colo. (AP) — Tornadoes touched down in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming today, damaging buildings, flipping vehicles and killing at least one person.

The National Weather Service said a large tornado touched down just after noon near Platteville, about 50 miles north of Denver. It then moved northward through or near several towns, tearing the roofs off buildings, downing power lines and crumpling farm equipment.

A second tornado touched down later in near Johnstown, about 10 miles northwest of Platteville, the weather service reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Windsor, a farm town of about 16,000, appeared the hardest hit. Video footage showed a dark gray funnel perhaps a quarter-mile wide near the town with heavy hail and rain. At least one residential neighborhood in Windsor appeared to have suffered heavy damage. Television footage showed several rail tanker cars lying on their sides in downtown Windsor.

“It passed right over us like a big, white monster,” said 87-year-old Windsor resident Thomas Coupe.

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said a man was killed at a campground west of Greeley. He declined to say how the man was killed.

Emergency personnel were still trying to determine how many people were hurt, and how badly.

At least seven people were taken to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland with injuries, said hospital spokesman Gary Kimsey. The nature and extent of their injuries were not immediately known.

“We have every type of injury, broken bones, cuts, bruises, from everything from falling trees to broken glass hitting them,” said Jolene Schneider, spokeswoman for the Windsor Fire Department. “Only thing we are trying to figure out now is how many and how severe.”

Splintered wood, mangled metal and other debris cluttered roads, yards and agricultural fields in and around Windsor. About 130 children at a daycare center in the town were reported safe after the storm passed through; playground equipment outside the center was damaged.

“My house is gone,” said Pete Ambrose, a caretaker at a Weld County campground outside Greeley. “I lost my dog. I lost my cats. I lost my camper. I lost everything.”

Windsor resident Liz Meyer, 65, said she heard thunder and hail and rushed with her dog into her basement. Her house wasn’t damaged, but a 60-foot tree was uprooted from two blocks away and dumped near her home. “And look. It went into the street instead of into my house,” Meyer said.

Police officers were going door to door through Windsor looking for survivors, said Greeley police Sgt. Joe Tymkowych. “We’re hoping to finish that by nightfall,” Tymkowych said.

Tymkowych said he was about a half-mile from the tornado as it swept through the western edge of Evans and Greeley, an area that is mostly corn fields.

“It was a tornado that just sat on the ground,” Tymkowych said. “The amount of swirling debris and dust was just amazing, about a block, a block and a half wide. You could see debris just rotating, light poles, trees, you could see items being cast out from the sides, the edges of the tornado.”

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