Severe thunderstorm watch issued for Colorado Springs, southern Colorado

May 22, 2014 Updated: May 22, 2014 at 2:42 pm
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Radar at 2:30 p.m. Thursday. (National Weather Service)

El Paso County may get another round of intense thunderstorms and hail Thursday, but the National Weather Service in Pueblo said there was no guarantee the storms would be as severe as the cell that hammered the Front Range Wednesday with ping pong size-hail and five tornadoes that grounded airplanes and shut down roads.

A severe thunderstorm watch until 7 p.m. for southeast Colorado, including Baca, Bent, Crowley, El Paso, Huerfano, Kiowa, Las Animas, Otero, Prowers and Pueblo counties went into effect Thursday, the weather service said.

Scattered thunderstorms will begin to develop across the mountains and southern portions of the southeast plains about noon Thursday, the weather service forecasts.

"The latest data indicates there is a slight chance of thunderstorms from the late morning, increasing to 50 percent chance by late afternoon and early evening," said meteorologist John Kalina. "There is a potential for strong to severe storms, but that will really depend on where and how they develop."

The storm that pounded most of Colorado Springs Wednesday developed slowly to the south and traveled north at about 40 mph, crashing down with very heavy rain and hail large enough to clog several drain grates and flood streets.

CLICK HERE for a slideshow of Wednesday's storm.

With a similar outlook in the Thursday forecast, the weather service urged the public to stay informed and keep up with weather reports throughout the day.

Higher atmospheric pressure across northeast El Paso, Bent, Kiowa, Crowley, Otero and Prowers counties could produce damaging winds with gusts up to 60 mph and hail up to 1.5 inches in diameter, according to a hazardous weather statement from the weather service.

The storms have a slight chance of hitting the Black Forest, Waldo Canyon, Royal Gorge and East Peak burn scars from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., the weather service said. Although the the thunderstorms will be hit or miss for the burn scars, they may be capable of producing rainfall heavy enough to cause localized flash flooding.

In the San Luis Valley and the southwest and central mountains there will be a higher potential for thunderstorms. Those storms are likely to produce erratic wind gusts up to 50 mph, briefly moderate-to-heavy rainfall and small hail about a half inch in diameter, the weather service forecasted.

Bad weather was in the forecast Wednesday for northern Colorado, with tornado watches and eventually a warning that stretched from early afternoon into the evening. Tornado sirens went off in Denver and Aurora shortly before 3 p.m., and three twisters touched down in Aurora, according to Denver Post reports. Two more tornadoes were also reported south and southeast of DIA.

DIA reported flight delays of up to 90 minutes and diverted 38 flights, some to Colorado Springs and some to Grand Junction. It also diverted 24 flights on Tuesday because of severe storms.

In El Paso County, the brunt of the storm was almost over in about an hour, leaving residents to assess the damage from the inch of hail reported in Colorado Springs, Monument, Woodland Park and Calhan.

About 7,000 people went without power shortly during the storm and there were reports of broken windows near downtown Colorado Springs and the Colorado College campus.

The outlook for the rest of the week isn't very favorable, with more scattered thunderstorms in the forecast for the Front Range into the weekend. The weather service predicted a 40 percent chance of severe thunderstorms on Friday, 30 percent Saturday and 50 percent Sunday. Memorial Day could see drier conditions, with partly sunny skies and 10 percent chance of precipitation in the forecast.

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