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TORNADOES SNAKE THROUGH PLAINS – FRONT RANGE STORMS PROMPT WARNINGS BUT CAUSE LITTLE DAMAGE

TORNADOES SNAKE THROUGH PLAINS – FRONT RANGE STORMS PROMPT WARNINGS BUT CAUSE LITTLE DAMAGE

Rocky Mountain News (CO) – Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Author/Byline: Brian D. Crecente, Rocky Mountain News
Staff writers John Aguilar, Hector Gutierrez, Sarah Langbein and Clayton Woullard contributed to this story.
Edition: Regional
Section: City Desk/Local
Page: 4A
At least six funnel clouds and a cluster of hailstorms wound their way through towns in Douglas, Elbert and Arapahoe counties Tuesday afternoon but left little damage in their wake.

The first two funnels were spotted between Castle Rock and Franktown about 2:30 p.m.

Gary Wiggins, who lives on Douglas Lane in southern Castle Rock, watched as a tornado tore off a piece of tin roofing from his shed and hurled it 80 yards into nearby trees.

“It felt like I was in a movie,” Wiggins said. “I was trying to put the van into the shed and then I just jumped out and got into the house. And I was still trying to get the dogs and cats into the basement. That’s when I saw the tin roof flying.”

Brian Marshall, a veterinarian at Franktown animal clinic just west of town, said he saw a funnel cloud descend from the sky about two miles east of the clinic about 3 p.m.

“It never did make it to the ground, but it was kind of snaking its way down,” he said. “I grew up in Iowa and I thought these clouds looked pretty bad.”

About 3 p.m. Greg Jameson walked out onto his front porch in the 10900 block of Duffy Lane in Franktown. “I didn’t see anything,” he said. “Then I looked up and it was right over my head. It was a funnel straight above me.”

Jameson said the funnel seemed to float above him harmlessly. “It was kind of going at an angle up into the sky,” he said. “I thought I better get pictures of this and then get into the basement. It wasn’t close enough that I felt like running.”

Shortly after he snapped a picture, the tail of the cloud drifted away, he said.

Douglas County emergency crews patrolled the areas where funnels had been reported but were unable to find any significant damage.

About 50 customers at Gold Creek Shopping Center in Elizabeth took shelter in a meat cooler for nearly 30 minutes while warning sirens sounded.

“A cop said, ‘You need to get in the back because it’s not safe,’ ” said Jo Ann Compton, an employee at Safeway.

In the same shopping center, Lauri Grace, an employee of Dependable Cleaners, watched the chaos unfold.

“People were running and screaming when the sirens went off,” Grace said. “A lot of mothers were trying to gather their children and get them to shelter.”

Lea Croghan, 44, spotted a funnel cloud about five miles west of her home in Elizabeth about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday and watched it for about 10 minutes until it dissipated.

“It came out as a small nub like a thumb,” Croghan said. “I thought maybe it wasn’t a funnel but I saw enough of the rotation to know it was.”

Two tornadoes also were spotted in Elbert County. The twisters uprooted trees and damaged barns between Elizabeth and Kiowa and north of Elbert.

Two more funnels were spotted in Arapahoe County about 2:30 p.m. One was spotted about a mile south of Potomac Street and Broncos Parkway, and the other was about a mile southeast of that crossing. Neither apparently touched down.

“From our headquarters building I could actually see six tornadoes over a 30-minute period,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.

Some of the well-defined, rotating funnels touched down in Arapahoe County, but none caused any damage or injuries. Robinson said he saw one hit the ground in an open field. He also said two touched down near the border of Arapahoe and Elbert counties.

The county dispatched weather spotters to report storm movement and any damage, Robinson said.

Another tornado reportedly touched down near Penrose, 80 miles south of Denver and 25 miles northwest of Pueblo.

Hailstorms hit several counties south of Denver with pea- to penny-size hail, said Randy Gray, a meteorological technician with the National Weather Service.

Heavy rain caused street flooding in Colorado Springs, Gray said. A half-inch of rain was recorded at the Colorado Springs Airport.

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