Thursday, December 8

Unusual wind gusts bring down trailers and roofs in Colorado


(CNN) — An intense storm system moving from the Rocky Mountains to the Plains is creating inclement weather conditions, tornadoes and extreme fire danger, while bringing with it widespread damaging winds this Wednesday.

Winds of up to 172 km / h in Lamar, Colorado, have toppled semi-trailers, ripped off roofs and toppled trees, according to Mayor Kirk Crespin.

“It has been an interesting day here at Lamar, and a day that has broken the wind record,” he said. “The blasts have caused widespread damage.”

Wednesday’s storm outbreak is unusual for this time of year and comes after one of the weather events deadliest in history.

Crespin said that all emergency management workers are activated and working hard to keep the community safe.

“We have tree damage and downed power lines, just like the internet,” Crespin said. “We are working hard to keep everyone safe.”

Crespin said crews have been trying to clean up wind damage as well as repair lines all day and will continue to work throughout the afternoon and into the night.

“We will have a lot of damage to repair once the winds lose intensity,” he said.

Mike Smaldino, Public Information Officer for the Colorado Springs Fire Department, said sustained winds and gusts have caused significant damage in Colorado Springs.

“The roof of our own fire department was partially blown off,” Smaldino said. “On my way into town alone, I saw about a dozen overturned semi-trailers.”

Smaldino said calls to the fire department have nearly quadrupled in the past three hours. “We are dealing with gas leaks, grass fires from downed power lines, as well as burning trees.”

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A gas leak at the Chapel Hills mall prompted authorities to evacuate the mall. According to Smaldino, the escape was stopped and they are cleaning the air.

Several locations, including the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, have reported wind gusts of 160 km / h or more, according to the National Weather Service.

At Fort Carson, the wind caused minor damage to one of its gates, forcing the army base to close it, as stated in a tweet. The Public Affairs office told CNN that at this time they are still assessing the damage, but everything appears to be minor. No injuries have been reported and there is no impact on traffic operations, the base said.

According FlightAware.com, there are 494 delayed flights to and from Denver International Airport and 145 canceled flights.

Winds affect other states

As of 4 p.m. ET, hurricane wind gusts have been recorded in at least seven states.

Strong winds are producing dust storm conditions in parts of the plains. Interstate 70 is closed in both directions from the Colorado state line to Russell, Kansas, with sand and dust creating near-zero-visibility conditions, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation.

More than 80 million people are under storm wind watch and more than 35 million are under high wind watch, including residents of Denver, Kansas City, Omaha, Des Moines, Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago.

Power outages are expected to increase as the powerful wind field expands and spreads to the east.

As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 100,000 users were without power in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, according to Poweroutage.us.

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In Colorado, about 64,000 customers, including homes, businesses and organizations, are without power. The figures for power outages in other states affected by bad weather are as follows:

  • Kansas: 27.920
  • Oklahoma: 18.728
  • Texas: 11.023
  • New Mexico: 10.417

At least nine wildfires are burning in northwest and western Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma Emergency Management Public Information Officer Keli Cain.

Cain also mentioned that a red flag warning and a high wind warning are in effect for multiple counties.
The largest fire occurred in Guymon, where there is an evacuation order, according to Cain.

“The other big problem we have is just high winds. We have a high wind advisory that is in effect for several counties, as well as Northwest Oklahoma. And then we have a wind advisory that is in effect for most of the rest of the counties in Oklahoma, “he said.

The wind could cause problems with power lines, according to Cain, and some roof damage was reported.

Cain noted that “people should be especially careful about any activity that could start a wildfire because the winds are very, very strong and can get out of control very quickly.”

– Raja Razek contributed to this report.




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