- The Washington Times - Monday, May 26, 2008

WINDSOR, Colo. (AP) - Tornadoes touched down in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming on Thursday, 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, Colo. about 50 miles north of Denver. It then moved north 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, Colo. about 10 miles northwest of Platteville, the weather service reported. There were no immediate reports of injuries.

Windsor, Colo., 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 on their sides in downtown Windsor.

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

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

Emergency personnel were 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 known.

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

Police officers were going door to door through Windsor looking for survivors, said Greeley police Sgt. Joe Tymkowych.

Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. declared a state of emergency for Weld County, mobilizing the Colorado National Guard to assist with disaster response.

Interstate 25, the state’s main north-south highway, was closed for several hours after the storm before reopening . Parts of state Highway 85, an alternate route, remained closed. Schools that had been locked down because of the storm reopened about an hour after it passed.

Some 60,000 customers lost power in the area at the peak of the storm, according to XCel energy.

A tornado warning also was issued for an area about 100 miles northeast of Denver, but there were no reported tornadoes. KUSA television reported a funnel cloud was spotted near Longmont, about 30 miles north of Denver, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

Meanwhile, weather service meteorologist John Griffith said a tornado touched down in Laramie, Wyo., yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Griffith, who works in the agency’s Cheyenne, Wyo., office, said he had received reports that the storm damaged two schools and a Wal-Mart.

State troopers responded to reports of vehicles turned over on Interstate 80 in Laramie, a dispatcher with the Wyoming Highway Patrol said.

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