By BRUCE FINLEY
On Tuesday evening, at least one tornado – and possibly two – touched down in Yuma County, churning up debris and damaging buildings south of Yuma, but sparing those in the town center.
A vortex ripped off a house south of town with a family inside and leveled outbuildings, City Manager Scott Moore said. Moore said multiple power lines were torn down and two tornadoes may have hit around 4:50 p.m. Moore rescued the people and no injuries were reported.
“A tornado of that size would be very damaging to a city. I was watching and worried. Fortunately we avoided most of the damage in town,” he said. “The family was evacuated by emergency personnel. No injuries were reported. People are moving about as usual.”
Hail was dropped in the area, including a record-sized hailstone.
Officials at Yuma’s police department confirmed there was no major damage in town, but crews were surveying damage south of town.
“We are fine here in town. There was some damage about a mile south of town, but it didn’t come through”, Yuma Police Department administrator Abby Keefe said.
National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Entrekin said the tornado struck in southern Yuma County at 7:26 p.m. Idalia, with a population of 97, is 15 miles from Colorado’s border with Kansas.
School secretary Joni Dutton didn’t notice extreme weather Tuesday night at her home in Idalia.
“I know that there were some warnings,” said Dutton Wednesday morning. “The hail here was not as bad as some other areas.”
The NWS office in Goodland, Kansas, was surveying the tornado path and damage and believes “probably more than one” hit, said meteorologist Jerry Killingsworth. “We have not received any information. I have not heard of any injuries or deaths.”
As of Wednesday morning, there was no additional damage information available from Yuma County Sheriff Todd Combs.
It was reported at 7:22 p.m. that record hail measuring 5 inches in diameter had fallen in the area – “the size of canned hams,” Entrekin said.
‘Grapefruit-size’ hail, which is the largest on our scale, is 4.5 inches in diameter. We don’t have anything for 5 inches, so they will have to make a new category.'”
Former U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner took cover in his basement during the storm and advised other residents to do the same.
Several tornadoes have touched down in Colorado this year, and more are likely in the coming months.
“We’re not out of severe weather season yet,” Entrekin said. “But chances go down as August and September approach.”
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