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'Whirling Mass': Hail, Tornadoes, Floods Batter Colorado

by Alexander Smith and Jacob Rascon /  / Updated 

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Hail the size of grapefruit, heavy rainfall, and multiple tornadoes caused damage and flooding across parts of the Rockies and Plains overnight into Friday, officials and meteorologists said.

Seven tornadoes were reported in Colorado and one in Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

The worst hit was the town of Berthoud, Colorado, where up to 25 homes were affected, with more than 12 severely damaged. Trees were uprooted, but the Associated Press reported there were no injuries.

Don Grabosky, who lives just west of Berthoud, told NBC News that a tornado tore through his shed and destroyed his neighbor's home, but stopped short of his own house.

"You just wouldn't believe how many hailstones we had," he said. "And the continuous roar of the lightning and thunder. It was just awful."

His neighbors were not home when the tornado hit.

Debris is scattered on June 5 after a tornado tore through the area just west of Berthoud, Colorado.
Debris is scattered on June 5 after a tornado tore through the area just west of Berthoud, Colorado.Jacob Rascon / NBC News

"It was just a whirling mass," he said. "It was coming for my home, and God stopped it."

Another tornado touched down southeast of Denver Thursday night and damaged some homes, with heavy rain and hail pounding the area, causing flash floods.

Heavy rains prompted officials to issue a flash flood emergency in north-central Colorado until 4 a.m. MT (6 a.m. ET). Flood watches and warnings were also issued across patches of Wyoming, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.

Weather Channel lead forecaster Michael Palmer told NBC News there had been some reports of hail the size of grapefruit. And residents in the town of Simla, Colorado, about 60 miles southeast of Denver, posted pictures of large balls of ice to their Twitter accounts.

Scot Alexander, a resident in Denver, filmed people digging out their cars from ankle-deep hail on Thursday night, according to footage posted by NBC station KUSA.

There were 87 reports of hail across five states on Thursday and early Friday, according to the NWS.

Several rivers and creeks in Kansas City flooded as a result of persistent, heavy rain from Wednesday and Thursday. At least 17 river gauges across the city were at flood levels as of 3 p.m. local time Thursday, The Kansas City Star reported.

In other parts of the Missouri, the ground was so saturated that “as little as one inch of rain could lead to flash flooding in some areas,” the NWS warned.

The severe weather was expected to calm down through Friday morning, Palmer said, before picking back up in Colorado for another round in the afternoon.

On Saturday, Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota were set to get their share of severe storms, he added, before the system moved further east on Sunday, when it was expected to hit Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

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