Rare night tornadoes destroy homes in Colorado

This April 27, 2012 photo provided by Colorado Emergency Management shows tornado damage to a farmstead on the outskirts of Chivington, in southeaster Colorado, after rare night tornadoes passed through the area.

(AP) EADS, Colo. - At least five homes were destroyed early Friday after as many as three rare nighttime tornadoes reportedly ripped through sparsely populated counties on the southeastern Colorado plains.

The state emergency management division said tornadoes were reported in Prowers, Kiowa and Bent counties. Lamar authorities in Prowers County said they spotted a fast and large tornado south of the city that ripped through four homes and left at least two people injured.

A fifth home in Chivington was totaled after the five people sleeping inside escaped, said owner Therisa Brown, who added that there was no warning before her home was demolished.

"We woke up to the roof getting ripped off," Brown said. "We went to the living room and we lifted a wall off of a friend who was staying with us. That's when the tornado circled back and it hit the house again. We barely made it into the bathroom."

She said only a few exterior walls remained of her home.

Chris Sorensen, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, said the areas hit were mostly isolated farmland. A tractor-trailer was blown over on Colorado Highway 96 near Chivington, in Kiowa County.

Nearby in Eads, Mandy Adamson, who works at the Co-Op Service Station, said the damage was isolated.

"All I know is that it traveled into Lamar from someplace else, it got a ranch near there and it went up (north) to Chivington and that's where it took out another house," Adamson said.

Overnight tornadoes are rare in Colorado, where the temperature usually drops at night, said forecaster Patrick Cioffi. The severe weather hit after near record highs in the 80s. Tornado season usually doesn't begin until May in Colorado.

The National Weather Service said a survey team was heading to the area to confirm any touchdowns. The same band of storms also dropped snow in Breckenridge and the Eisenhower Tunnel, said forecaster Todd Dankers in Boulder. High winds swept the Western Slope, but no injuries were reported, he said.

Kiowa County emergency manager Jeffrey Wright said authorities were going home to home to locate residents. Power was out in several areas, and state transportation officials said motorists were having trouble finding gas.