Severe weather with hail, lightning and heavy rain swept across the southern Denver area and into the Eastern Plains on Wednesday, hitting Washington County hard where multiple tornado sightings were reported.
“This was a pretty impressive event,” said Evan Direnzo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder. “We knew this was going to be a good afternoon and evening, storm-wise.”
The threat of severe weather has diminished. Storms generally move to the north-northeast and can bring sub-severe hail, high winds of up to 50 mph, and heavy rainfall. With all areas receiving heavy rainfall there is a chance of flash flooding. #COwx #KSwx #NEwx pic.twitter.com/8c20WsSVW0
— NWS Goodland (@NWSGoodland) May 11, 2023
The largest hail, a 4-inch rock according to the weather service, fell northeast of Gary in Morgan County around 5:50 p.m., Direnzo said. The Woodrow area, in Washington County, recorded 3-inch rock hail around 6:10 p.m
Before the hailstorm moved into the plains, the southern metro area received widespread afternoon hail, including in Centennial, Castle Rock and Franktown, while the storm moved northeast from Douglas and Arapahoe counties, where 2-inch hail was reported in some areas. .
Eight tornado sightings were reported in Washington County, including two outside Akron around 6:30 p.m., by weather spotters, Direnzo said. Based on initial findings, the weather service believes three tornadoes may have touched down, with spotters reporting the same tornado from different vantage points. The weather service will continue to verify tornado landings from the storm in the coming days and weeks.
The same plains region that was hit hard by hail and had tornado sightings was also ravaged by heavy rainfall. Western Washington County, into southwestern Logan County and eastern Morgan County saw heavy rainfall, with more than an inch in some areas, Direnzo said. A flash flood warning has been posted for the area until 9:45 p.m
The impressive storm system unleashed lightning, including cloud-to-ground strikes, throughout the afternoon and evening in vast areas.
“Nothing was really missed,” Direnzo said of weather forecasters’ efforts in forecasting and tracking the storm. “We’ve done pretty well.”