LOGAN COUNTY, Colo. — A tornado that touched down west of Sterling on Wednesday destroyed a house, garage and trees around the property a day before another destructive tornado hit Highlands Ranch.
The tornado, which was classified as a preliminary EF-1, was on the ground for less than a quarter of a mile, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). It started near North Sterling State Park with some funnel clouds and large hail before moving west and then back east to Sterling. The estimated peak winds were 110 mph, according to a NWS report.
NWS said its crews are still figuring out the exact strength of the tornado, noting that one to four additional tornadoes broke out around Logan County and Washington County on Wednesday. It will have a confirmation on the number and EF rating next week.
A home along the 6000 block of County Road 20.5, which is about 13 miles east of Sterling, was in its direct path and was destroyed.
A NWS report said the homeowner saw the cloud rotating northwest of his home and went straight to the basement.
"The owner was in the basement for a matter of a minute before leaving the shelter to find much of the roof structure was missing and a large brick chimney had fallen into the kitchen," a NWS report reads. "The tornado lasted no more than a minute or two before lifting."
The Logan County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) said the resident was not injured. However, the home is a total loss.
A NWS spokesperson said it's very lucky that the tornadoes didn't destroy any other homes. The only other report of damage was power poles that were knocked over, according to a NWS report.
Residents and businesses in Sterling have reported flooding and ground water seeping into their basements and ground floors.
The OEM added that the former Sykes Enterprise building in Sterling was also destroyed, but the cause was heavy rain. It was in the middle of a remodel project and nobody was inside when it collapsed.
The OEM said heavy rain and confirmed tornadoes sat over the county for about four hours on Wednesday. Sterling saw 4 to 6 inches of rain in just 35 to 40 minutes.
Crews are currently assessing downed power lines and trees, as well as washed out roads.
Pawnee Creek overflowed on Wednesday and caused severe flooding in Atwood, an unincorporated town in Logan County. In addition, the Sterling Fire Department helped evacuate one home, which included five people, four dogs, three cats and one bird.
How common are tornadoes in Colorado? Here are the numbers
The OEM said a sandbag fill site was set up across from the Atwood Sinclair, near Highway 63 and Interstate 76.
The OEM said the South Platte River in Logan County is expected to crest sometime on Sunday, which could result in local flooding along County Road 370 in Sterling and downstream along County Roads 65.7 and 55. Ahead of this flooding, additional sandbag fill-up stations are now open at the City Service Center, located at 102 Sugar Mill Road, and near the old Road & Bridge Shops on North Division Avenue in Sterling.
Logan County residents who have damaged property from this storm can contact the OEM by calling 970-520-0991 or emailing email@example.com. County residents are encouraged to sign up for the emergency notification system CodeRed, which can be done online here.
This storm hit the eastern plains community a day before a preliminary EF-1 tornado ripped through Highlands Ranch.