Wicked weather spawns tornado in Colorado, icy roads in Arizona

A tornado damaged motorhomes and caused some minor injuries in Colorado’s northeastern plains Saturday, while another spring storm brought deadly driving conditions to northern Arizona.

Morgan County Sheriff James Crone tells The Denver Post most of the Colorado camper vehicles were unoccupied when the tornado hit, and everyone refused medical care.

The tornado was first reported on the ground at about 3 p.m. Saturday near the rural community of Wiggins, about 65 miles northeast of Denver. It also damaged other vehicles, toppled trees and scattered debris on the ground.

KMGH-TV reports the National Weather Service sent out a warning at 6 p.m. after confirming a tornado about 100 miles east, near the town of Wray.

Earlier, hail the size of golf balls and tennis balls hammered parts of Colorado. There were no immediate reports of damage.

The National Weather Service had issued alerts for people to take shelter from large hail and severe thunderstorms as the storms moved through the Front Range toward the Nebraska border.

Meanwhile, two people died and six others were injured in a series of weather-related traffic crashes in northern Arizona.

Around 10 a.m., a vehicle rolled due to icy roads and hail on Interstate 40 near the community of Ash Fork. Two people tried to help the occupants and were struck and killed by a commercial vehicle, authorities said.

Those wrecks caused a chain reaction of at least three more crashes. Six people were taken to Flagstaff Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

A stretch of I-40 was shut down as troopers investigated, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said.

Elsewhere, a storm that pounded parts of Central and Southern California with heavy rain — causing streets to flood and closing key freeways for a time — continued to bring scattered showers Saturday. The rain was heavy at times, prompting weather forecasters to leave flash-flood warnings in effect.

Rain and thunderstorms could continue in the area into Sunday, forecasters said. The storm rolled in Friday.

Flash-flood warnings remained in effect for the mountain areas of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, as well as the Antelope Valley on the northern edge of Los Angeles County and Central California’s Cuyama Valley.

“An unseasonably moist and unstable air mass will bring the potential for afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms to the Antelope and Cuyama valleys and all the mountain areas from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara counties, excluding the Santa Monica range,” the National Weather Service said in a statement warning travelers to avoid taking roads filled with swift moving water.

“Turn around, don’t drown,” Saturday’s statement concluded.

The California Highway Patrol temporarily shut down northbound lanes of Interstate 5 at the Grapevine mountain pass Friday evening due to flash flooding. The closure caused traffic on the freeway — the main route connecting Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area — to back up for miles.

Also Friday, a fast-moving thunderstorm dropped heavy rain on the Southern California cities of Ontario and Rancho Cucamonga, stranding drivers who got caught on flooded streets. The roof of a warehouse in the area collapsed under the weight of accumulated rain water.

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