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4 dead after scores of twisters

Tornadoes from the Rockies to the Plains destroy homes, uproot trees, overturn trucks and injure residents.

March 30, 2007|From the Associated Press

HOLLY, COLO. — A massive spring storm spawned dozens of tornadoes from the Rockies to the Plains, killing at least four people in three states, including a woman who was flung into a tree by a twister as wide as two football fields.

Sixty-five tornadoes were reported late Wednesday in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska, the National Weather Service said. The storms continued Thursday afternoon, with a tornado injuring at least four people in Oklahoma City. A couple died in Oklahoma on Wednesday when a twister destroyed their home. In Texas, a man was found dead in the debris of his trailer.

In Colorado, Rosemary Rosales, 28, died after being found critically injured in a tree after the huge tornado destroyed several homes and damaged dozens of others in Holly, a town of 1,000 people about 235 miles southeast of Denver.

"All they heard was this big, ugly noise, and they didn't have no time to run," said Victoria Rosales, the victim's sister.

Rosales said her sister and the woman's husband, Gustavo Puga, were in the kitchen, and their 3-year-old daughter, Noelia, was sleeping in a front room when the tornado hit.

Puga was holding on to the girl when rescuers found them, said his brother, Oscar Puga. The father and daughter were in fair condition Thursday at a Colorado Springs hospital.

As residents sifted through their scattered belongings, the streets were littered with utility poles, power lines, tree limbs and other debris. One woman whose house was destroyed wept as she searched for a wedding ring.

"Homes were there, and now they're gone," Prowers County Administrator Linda Fairbairn said. "Many, if not all, the structures in town suffered some degree of damage."

In Oklahoma, Vance and Barbra Woodbury were killed when the storm blew apart their home near the Panhandle community of Elmwood.

"We set off the tornado sirens, but they live too far out to hear them," said Dixie Parker, Beaver County's emergency management director. "The house was just flattened, the out buildings are gone. All that's left is debris."

Tornadoes in the Texas Panhandle uprooted trees, overturned trucks and injured at least three people. The region also got baseball-sized hail.

Monte Ford, 53, was killed near Amarillo when a twister demolished his trailer.

Oklahomans on Thursday surveyed damage from that day's storm, which critically injured two people and heavily damaged at least 50 buildings in the city.

"An 18-wheeler was blown over, eight to 10 cars are in a ditch, power poles are broken, trees are overturned, there's heavy roof damage, outbuildings destroyed," said Ty Judd, a National Weather Service meteorologist. "We can safely call that a tornado."

The tornado in Colorado killed dozens of cattle and injured others so severely they had to be killed.

"It's better than letting them suffer," said rancher Bill Lowe, who had about 800 head of cattle in his feedlot when the tornado hit. He lost at least 35 animals in the storm.

The same storm system dumped snow on Wyoming, causing highway pileups and closing large portions of three interstates. In the Wind River Mountains, 58 inches of snow had fallen by Thursday morning.

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