The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for parts of the two states as well as Nebraska through Thursday night. Forecasters said thunderstorms that can spawn tornadoes could develop and flooding was possible.
Preliminary reports indicated about five tornadoes touched down in Colorado starting Wednesday evening, including one near Denver International Airport. No serious damage was reported.
Snowplows were called out in Douglas County, south of Denver, to clear hail up to 8 inches deep. About 40 people in Colorado Springs were rescued after cars became submerged in water and hail, including near Citadel mall, firefighters reported.
The rain provided some help to firefighters who fully contained a 227-acre wildfire in northern Colorado, but the weather initially hurt efforts to control a 6,000-acre blaze in Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest.
Storms passed close to the Wyoming fire but mostly brought gusty winds that fanned the flames. Rain and hail fell later, said fire spokeswoman Beth Hermanson. It wasn’t immediately clear whether it was enough to stop the fire.
Kyle Fredin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Denver, said the beginning of June is the peak time for such severe weather in Colorado. Most of the state has been experiencing moderate-to-extreme drought conditions.
“It’s game-on for this type of thing,” he said.
Rob Cox with the weather service in Cheyenne said hail measuring 2 inches in diameter was reported about 18 miles northeast of the city. Cheyenne and areas to the east received from 1 to 2 inches of rain, he said.
Jim Elias, a city public works director, said the drainage system worked well considering that nearly 2 inches of rain fell in a little more than two hours in some areas.
Cheyenne has spent millions of dollars improving drainage around the city since a flood in 1985 killed 12 people.
Elias said crews were called to areas with deep water but most of the water had gotten into the drainage system and had been carried away.