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Tornado Hits Nebraska Town, Causing Damage, One Injury

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[May 12, 2014]  (Reuters) - A tornado caused heavy damage to the downtown area of a small Nebraska town on Sunday, ripping off roofs and slightly injuring the town's police chief, authorities said.

The tornado, which landed Sunday evening in Sutton, Nebraska, blew the roof off the City Hall building and completely destroyed a farmer's house outside town, said police chief Tracey Landenberger.

"I was pretty worked up," said Landenberger, who was injured by broken glass flying into his face. "It was just black. You couldn't see nothing."

Landenberger said virtually every building in the city's two-block downtown stretch was damaged in the storm. Sutton sits about 80 miles southwest of Lincoln, Nebraska.

There were 26 preliminary tornado reports on Sunday across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.
 


On Sunday, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency after a tornado destroyed or damaged 200 to 300 homes in the small town of Orrick, Missouri, east of Kansas City the day before.

"I urge Missourians to stay alert, use caution and take shelter immediately if severe weather is headed their way," Nixon said in a statement.

A snowstorm blanketed the Northern Rockies earlier in the day, prompting road closures in Colorado and Wyoming, and the same weather system resulted in tornado watches being issued in several Midwestern states, officials said.

The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings for large swaths of Colorado and Wyoming for Sunday through Monday morning, cautioning motorists about hazardous driving conditions.

"Gusty north winds up to 45 miles per hour over the plains of northeastern Colorado will produce areas of blowing snow and poor visibilities," the service said in an advisory.

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In Wyoming, drifting snow from high winds forced the closure of a 150-mile (240-km) stretch of Interstate 80 from Cheyenne to Rawlins, the state's department of transportation said on its website.

Temperatures in Denver plummeted some 30 degrees overnight, and snow could accumulate on roadways throughout the region as they freeze, said Crystal Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Jim Kalina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boulder, Colorado, said the Denver metropolitan area could see up to 9 inches of snow and some mountain communities can expect accumulations of three feet.

"This is a slow-moving system and won't break down until mid-day Monday," Kalina said.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner and Keith Coffman; Editing by Paul Tait)

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