CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A rare, quarter-mile-wide tornado cut a swath across mainly open country in southeastern Wyoming, ripping off roofs and shingles, destroying outbuildings and derailing empty train cars.
The twister, which carried winds of up to 135 mph, was part of a powerful storm system that rolled through parts of Colorado and Wyoming on Thursday, packing heavy rains, high winds and hail. The storms followed a round of nasty late spring weather that pummeled the region.
The tornado passed through a sparsely populated area near Wheatland, a small city about 70 miles north of Cheyenne. It left eight structures heavily damaged and caused lesser damage three structures, said Kelly Ruiz of the state's Office of Homeland Security.
Some power lines also were downed. Only one person suffered minor injuries.
Kim Eike said the tornado went right over her house, which was still standing, though battered.
"We lost a camper, it blew out the windows in our house, blew off the shingles clear down to the plywood, but we didn't lose the roof," Eike, whose property is about 8 miles south of Wheatland, said Friday.
Eike was watching the twister with co-workers at First State Bank in Wheatland when one pointed out it was near Eike's house. She said the pig barn and door from the main barn also were lost.
No one was home at the time, she said, noting that a couple in another house in the area rode out the storm in their basement.
Don Farrier, a Wheatland restaurateur, said his house about 6.5 miles from Wheatland was damaged and will need a new roof. He said he lost some trees, and a shed on his property was knocked down.
Farrier was at his restaurant when he saw the tornado and decided to drive toward his home.
"I stopped and watched it for a while," he said. "It sure wasn't moving very fast, but you could tell it was a big tornado for this part of the country."
National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Emanuel said the tornado was a quarter-mile wide and stayed on the ground for much of its 20-mile path from west of Wheatland to northeast of Chugwater. The area is about 60 miles north of Cheyenne.