HOLLY, Colo. – A massive spring storm spawned dozens of tornadoes from the Rockies to the Plains, killing at least four people, including a woman who was flung into a tree by a twister as wide as two football fields.
Sixty-five tornadoes were reported late Wednesday in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, the National Weather Service said. The storms continued Thursday, with a tornado injuring at least four people in Oklahoma City.
In Colorado, Rosemary Rosales, 28, died after being found critically injured in the tree after the huge tornado destroyed several homes and damaged dozens of others in Holly, a town of 1,000 people about 235 miles southeast of Denver near the Kansas line.
“All they heard was this big ugly noise, and they didn’t have no time to run,” said Victoria Rosales, the victim’s sister.
In Oklahoma, a twister Wednesday killed a couple when it blew their home to pieces. In Texas, a man was found dead in the tangled debris of his trailer.
Tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle uprooted trees, overturned trucks and injured at least three people. The region also got baseball-sized hail.
Seven people were hurt when the tornado skipped for a mile and a half through Holly and surrounding areas. Five buildings were destroyed and more than 50 were damaged, said Chris Sorenson, a spokesman for the emergency response team.
Victoria Rosales said her sister and the woman’s husband, Gustavo Puga, were in the kitchen and their 3-year-old daughter, Noelia, was sleeping in a front room when the tornado hit.
Puga was holding onto the little girl when rescuers found them, said his brother, Oscar Puga. The two were in fair condition Thursday at a Colorado Springs hospital.
As residents sifted through their scattered belongings, the streets were littered with utility poles, power lines, tree limbs and other debris. One woman whose house was destroyed wept as she searched for a wedding ring.
“Homes were there and now they’re gone,” Prowers County Administrator Linda Fairbairn said. “Many, if not all, the structures in town suffered some degree of damage.”
In Oklahoma, Vance and Barbra Woodbury were killed when the storm blew apart their home near the Panhandle community of Elmwood.
“We set off the tornado sirens, but they live too far out to hear them,” said Dixie Parker, Beaver County’s emergency management director. “The house was just flattened, the out buildings are gone. All that’s left is debris.”
The same storm system dumped snow on Wyoming, causing highway pileups and closing large portions of three interstates. In the Wind River Mountains, 58 inches of snow had fallen by Thursday morning.
At least 800 homes in north-central Wyoming were without heat and electricity Thursday, down from about 2,200 the day before.