Colorado weather: Hail damage and tornado warnings along the Front Range and northern Plains, delays at DIA. More severe weather possible overnight
Updated at 7:37 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10, 2023.
There is still potential for severe weather Tuesday night. A Tornado Watch remains in effect for much of the Front Range and Eastern Plains until 9 p.m.
Parts of Northern Colorado could experience heavy rain and strong winds Thursday morning. Jennifer Stark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, says that could cause flooding in areas close to rivers, creek, and burn scars.
"We are expecting pretty widespread rainfall to continue, Wednesday night through like Friday morning," Sark said. "So those areas are in a Flood Watch for additional rainfall."
Fort Collins, Greeley and western Boulder County are under a flood watch until Friday morning. Authorities warn people should never drive on flooded roads, even when they look shallow. It only takes a few inches to cause accidents or leave cars stuck in the water.
As of 7:34 p.m. all Tornado Warnings in the state have expired.
Thursday weather report: Denver and Adams counties under flood warning, Denver metro sees flooding on roads and low areas
The National Weather Service in Boulder said severe thunderstorms are starting to exit Metro Denver and enter the northeast region of the state. Some of the thunderstorms may drop large hail, but most people will receive rain.
NWS Meteorologist Caitlyin Mensch said her office received reports of tennis ball-sized hail along the I-70 corridor near Strasburg.
“That's kind of the size that we're looking at here. Not all of these storms contain tennis ball size hail,” Mensch said. “Plenty of other reports are coming in right now with hail sizes of like ping pong and golf ball size.”
Mensch added the severe thunderstorms are expected to continue in the Eastern Plains for the rest of the evening. Thunderstorms are expected west of the Boulder area, but they won’t be as severe.
A tornado touched down in Morgan County just before 5:55 p.m. Wednesday.
The National Weather Service said people in the area should take immediate cover. A tornado warning was in effect for Fort Morgan and Brush through 6:45 p.m.
The storm is causing significant flight delays at Denver International Airport. Ashley Forest, a spokeswoman for the airport, said they’re bracing for a big storm cell predicted for around 6 p.m. and urged people coming to the airport to drive slowly and be safe.
“We do have systems in place where, if it happens to be a Tornado Warning, where employees would direct passengers to our shelters to be able to shelter-in-place, including our employees as well,” said Forest. “But as of right now, we are keeping an eye on it.”
The northeastern quadrant of Colorado — from El Paso County to the Kansas-Nebraska border — is under a tornado watch until 9 p.m. Wednesday.
It includes the cities of Denver, Colorado Springs and Greeley. A watch indicates that storms in the area are capable of spinning off into tornados.
Portions of Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties were also under severe weather warnings that started after 4 p.m. Wednesday.
In southeast Aurora, John Larson and Bryce Kennedy’s home suffered hail damage during the storm.
The couple was working in the upstairs office of their home when the hailstorm arrived Wednesday afternoon. That’s when they heard an Emergency Alert for the tornado watch and incoming storm.
“We continued working for a bit up there until I heard what I thought was something falling on the house. I guess that was probably the first chunk of hail hitting us,” Kennedy said. “Within less than a minute, probably, we were just hearing massive thumps and loud sounds from the roof from hail heading up there.”
The couple went down to the basement as a safety precaution. After 20 minutes, the storm had passed and the damage was done. Kennedy said the hail damaged the vinyl siding of their house.
“There are a bunch of cracks and holes all along the side of the house and the siding there,” Kennedy described. “On another side of the house, where the smaller hail was hitting, almost the entire side of that house is covered with small black spots and pitting that happens to vinyl siding when it gets hit by hail.”
Kennedy and Larson changed their hail damage deductible from $5000 to $1000 late last year when they moved into their home, Larson tweeted. Kennedy said he doesn’t regret it.
“I think we're probably going to either have to have one or two full sides of the house resided or reside the whole thing at this point,” Kennedy said. “It’s definitely worth it to pay a little more every year and not have to pay a huge chunk up front.”
Residents in Castle Rock, Littleton, Centennial and Aurora were advised to take shelter in basements and windowless rooms as a powerful storm punched through the region.
The National Weather Service issued warned people of golf ball-sized hail, tornado-strength winds and flying debris.
While the tornado warning for the area has expired, there are still severe thunderstorm warnings scattered across eastern Colorado, with the potential for damaging wind and hail.
Traffic cameras from the state’s Department of Transportation showed hail building up on some roads in the Denver area. And people took to social media to show off handfuls of hailstones, many an inch or more in diameter.
In northern Colorado, the National Weather Service is warning of possible flash flooding for parts of Jackson, Grand, Larimer, Boulder, Weld and Morgan counties.
Colorado is at the start of its hail season, which typically runs from mid-April to mid-September. In the past, some severe hail events have caused billions of dollars in damage. They include a 2017 storm that ripped through the roof of the Colorado Mills Mall, closing it for six months. That storm caused an estimated $2.3 billion dollars in damage.
Hayley Sanchez, Paolo Zialcita and Alejandro A. Alonso Galva contributed to this report.
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