Colorado braces for more storms

2015-06-05 22:28
The South Platte River overflowing and severely flooding a home west of Kersey, Colorado. (Joshua Polson, AP/The Greeley Tribune)

The South Platte River overflowing and severely flooding a home west of Kersey, Colorado. (Joshua Polson, AP/The Greeley Tribune)

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Berthoud - Violent storms across Colorado swirled into tornadoes that destroyed homes, popped open a sink hole that swallowed a police cruiser and dropped so much hail on a Denver neighbourhood that residents had to dig out of the ice with shovels.

Forecasters warned on Friday that more severe weather and flooding was on the way.

The National Weather Service posted flood advisories for much of northern Colorado, where rivers already are running high from melting snow and an unusually rainy spring.

The storms raked areas from Pueblo in the south to Fort Collins in the north and east into the Plains, dropping more than 178mm of rain in parts of the Rocky Mountain foothills that experienced devastating flooding in 2013. No serious injuries have been reported.

As lightning flickered from horizon to horizon and rains pelted Denver overnight, Sgt Greg Miller of the Sheridan police department was driving an SUV on a suburban street when it plunged into a 4.6m-deep, 6m-wide sink hole that he couldn't see.

Miller crawled through a window and to the vehicle's roof, then up to the pavement above. He was unhurt.

"I'm glad it happened to me and to no one else," Miller told Denver's KMGH-TV. A crane extracted the SUV from the sinkable Friday afternoon.

In one Denver neighbourhood, residents came outside to find 0.91m-deep piles of marble-sized hail. The ice blanketed the street like snow, and crews used bucket-loaders to clear the road.

In Berthoud, about 64km north of Denver, at least three homes were destroyed. Crews repaired downed power lines and police set up road checkpoints throughout the area.

Two tornadoes damaged at least six homes near Simla, on Colorado's eastern plains, Elbert County officials said.

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