Hail, Torrential Rain, Wind Gusts Pound Pueblo

August 29, 2006

A storm Saturday pummeled the Pueblo, Colo., area with hail, torrential rain and wind gusts up to 69 mph, and at least two people were sent to hospitals with injuries caused by the storm.

One person at the Colorado State Fair suffered what were believed to be head or neck injuries after a tent fell, State Fair general manager Chris Wiseman said. The person was among three people who were injured when vendors’ tents blew down, Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino said.

Meanwhile firefighters rescued Edward Dawson outside his home after he was struck by a falling tree while trying to bring in his dogs from the storm.

“We’ve been lucky that more people have not been hurt because this was a dangerous storm,” Corsentino said.

Authorities responded to more than a dozen reports of stranded vehicles and downed power lines, sheriff’s spokeswoman Lisa Shorter said. The National Weather Service reported that one underpass had 8 feet of water in it, and Turkey Creek in Pueblo West overflowed its banks.

Meteorologists were trying to confirm whether tornados had touched down.

Residents reported nickel-sized hail near Florence and pea-sized hail as deep as 10 inches in Pueblo West, said Randy Gray of the National Weather Service.

At the airport in Pueblo, gusts reached 69 mph and nearly an inch of rain fell within 40 minutes, Gray said.

Sheriff’s officials and the National Weather Service had given Colorado State Fair officials about 15 or 20 minutes’ notice that a severe storm was on the way, Wiseman said. Organizers managed to get many visitors indoors and began shutting down carnival rides before the brunt of the storm arrived, but several smaller tents blew over and limbs fell from trees, Wiseman said.

“We’re just happy we were able to let people know to get inside,” Wiseman said. He said he would not knew for a few days what the financial impact of the storm was.

The Florence Rose bed and breakfast innkeeper Cindy Calahan said mostly pea-sized hail fell at the guesthouse in Florence, although some was as large as marbles.

“Some of my customers when they came in said their cars had damage. They had dents,” Calahan said. After heavy rain Friday and Saturday, the roof on the back porch of the inn was leaking.

“We’re putting a new roof on in September anyway so we’ll catch the drips today,” she said.

Pueblo West Metropolitan District Manager Don Saling said several people in vehicles were caught in high water. Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies used rope and life vests to rescue drivers.

Saling said three inches of hail was still on the ground after the rain subsided.

“It came and it nailed us,” Saling said.

An Aquila representative did not return an after-hours phone message regarding power outages.

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