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Colorado sees 1st tornado of the season — and snow, lightning, hail

A landspout tornado touched down near Keenesburg around 3 p.m. Tuesday during a tornado warning.

KEENESBURG, Colo. — The first Colorado tornado of the year touched down near Keenesburg Tuesday afternoon -- part of a day of wild weather as a spring storm hit the state. 

A Tornado Warning -- also the first of the year in Colorado --  was issued by the National Weather Service office in Boulder around 2:50 p.m., and weather spotters reported a tornado on the ground a few minutes later.

The tornado was a landspout. Landspouts are weaker and usually shorter-lived than other kinds of tornadoes, though they can produce damage.

As of 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday, the tornado had lifted and the Tornado Warning was no longer in effect.

The tornado was clearly visible from Denver International Airport. Inbound flights were being held at their origins due to the active weather. That ground stop has since been lifted.

Credit: Matt Piechota
Tornado near Keenesburg and Denver's airport, Colo., on April 25, 2023.

The storm was part of a strong spring system poised to deliver a soaking rain to much of eastern Colorado and potentially feet of snow to the foothills and mountains above 7,000 feet in elevation.

"You have to be extra careful and be prepared for the worst," CDOT spokesperson Tamara Rollison said, referring to drivers on Interstate 70 and Interstate 25.

To prepare for the snow, Rollison said, CDOT is in full "storm shift" mode, with 80 trucks throughout the Denver metro area and another 20 to 30 along the I-70 corridor. 

"So we are urging people to limit travel in the areas where we are going to see snow and to be extra careful region wide and also statewide where we're getting impacts from the spring storm," Rollison said. 

One of the main focuses of concern on the highways is the stretch of I-25 from Castle Rock to Monument, she said. 

Just a few miles west of there in the mountains, snow was already falling in the Evergreen area. 

Credit: Mark Zoleta
Animals endure the snow as it starts to fall in Evergreen on Tuesday afternoon. (Apr. 25)

The Evergreen Fire Protection District's assistant chief, Stacee Martin, told 9NEWS they were preparing to chain up the tires of their trucks ahead of a storm where they were expecting "feet" of snow. 

"So we're preparing to meet up at different stations depending on the different elevation levels and how far out they are in our district," Martin said. "Emergencies don't care what the weather is."

Small hail was also reported on Tuesday afternoon in Berthoud, Loveland and Keenesburg.

A spokesperson for Xcel Energy said they have all available crews ready to repair damage or resolve any power outages that may occur during the storm.

"Xcel Energy has detailed staffing and operational plans in place to make sure key employees, including line workers, are available and able to respond to outages that may occur due to severe weather," the utility said in a press release Tuesday.

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