At least five tornadoes touched down in Colorado on Sunday â including one east of Lafayette â with the most serious twister overturning benches and a car outside a mall in Aurora.
There were no immediate reports of serious injuries. Firefighters reported moderate damage and gas leaks at the Southlands Mall, which was forced to close.
In Boulder County, sheriff’s officials reported no weather-related damage.
The other tornadoes were reported 6 miles east of Lafayette; one south of Bennett; one south of Deer Trail; and one north of Byers, the National Weather Service said.
A funnel cloud also may have touched down briefly near Interstate 25 and Colo. 7 near the border between Erie and Broomfield, witnesses said, although officials could not confirm that.
The National Weather Service said the tornado that damaged the mall touched down south of Buckley Air Force Base just before 2 p.m. and may have been on the ground for about 30 minutes, taking an 8- to 10-mile path across southeast Aurora.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units on the mall roof were damaged. Mall spokeswoman Joyce Rocha-Brown said damage was being assessed and no decision had been made on when the building might reopen.
Julie Patterson, 36, could see the tornado from the back deck of her house in Aurora.
“You could see the debris flying in the funnel cloud,” she said.
Christina Loznicka, a spokesman for Allstate Insurance Co., was driving through affected neighborhoods near the mall Sunday evening, assessing the damage.
“Where I am is all town homes, and I think every unit has damage,” she said by cell phone. “There are lots of windows broken out, vehicle damage, landscaping.”
She said homeowners should contact their insurers as soon as possible, make repairs to windows and roofs necessary to prevent further damage and save receipts associated with the storm, since many should be reimbursable.
The extent of the insurance bill will take days to determine, she said, as customers report hail damage and other losses.
Many spots in the Denver area also were pelted with hail as big as baseballs. The Weather Service received reports of hail as big as 3 inches in Arapahoe County, meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners said.
Xcel Energy said the storm blew down power lines, leaving about 3,000 customers in parts of Aurora and Centennial without power for about an hour and 40 minutes before service was restored.
Today is expected to have a slight chance of showers in the morning and a 30 percent chance of afternoon showers or thunderstorms, until midnight.
There’s a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon, with mostly cloudy skies and a high near 73 degrees.
June is notorious for thunderstorms and tornadoes, with more than 40 percent of the twisters the state receives each year recorded during this month.
Camera Staff Writer Amy Bounds and The Denver Post contributed to this report.