Tornado touches down in Marbleton

Joy Ufford photos Steve McCoy sits on his steps next to very heavy curled-up metal roofing that landed with a crash in his yard during the tornado.

No injuries reported

When Tobi Holt

heard the window-rattling “BOOM” during

the heavy rainstorm that hit Marbleton

on Friday, April 26, and the “noise

like a freight train coming” that followed

she immediately recognized the sound

and grabbed her phone.

“I knew right away it was a tornado,”

she said Friday, a couple of hours later

while firefighters and power crews continued

to assess damages of the brief but

fierce windstorm. “I went through them

when I lived in Florida. I lived in a trailer

like that and it was lifted off the ground.”

She was pointing to a vacant trailer

at the corner of Sage Drive. With her

phone, she captured the tornado in motion

as the trailer lifted and twisted, then set

back down. Trampolines, yard furniture,

roofs and sheet metal twisted through the

air over a couple blocks of the town’s

residential area between Fifth and Sixth

streets.

The windstorm that landed from 12:30

to 12:31 p.m. was officially classified as

a “weak” tornado of 65 to 85 mph winds.

Not much earlier, the last piece of

metal debris hanging from the power lines

behind the home of Justin and Chrissie

Zumpfe had been removed and power was

restored. The Zumpfes’ home, located at

510 Rakestraw Ave., was the first and

hardest hit. Part their roof was ripped off

and a camper trailer filled with belongings

had rolled and mashed into one mess.

Friends and firefighters brought empty

storage containers from Green Pastures,

PINEDALE  – Even though last year’s

final installment of property taxes isn’t due

until May 10, most Sublette County residents

have already received the 2019 Notice

of Assessment.

Tornado touches down in Marbleton

where Zumpfe is manager, so she could

pack up what she could salvage.

A woman and her children cleared debris

from their yard, a large black trampoline

collapsed over their fence. “Our

trampoline is down there,” she said.

Car, truck and residential windows

were broken by flying wood and metal

and a Marbleton town crew pulled a plastic

playset and more sheet metal from a

water-filled ditch. The vacant trailer’s

owners Brad Eves and Nikki Cowley

prepared to salvage whatever they could

from inside as Gary Eiden looked it over

before hauling it to his scrapyard north

of town.

Town of Marbleton employees worked

swiftly to check where the largest debris

touched down and haul off what they

could. Public works supervisor Todd

Brown, who had contacted Mayor Jim

Robinson in Utah, said those with damages

would get free dump vouchers.

“Two homes were rendered unlivable,”

reported Pat Kondas of American Red

Cross. “Damage to a home on Rakestraw

Avenue displaced two adults, three children,

two dogs and one cat. Assistance was

provided for lodging and other immediate

needs. Further assistance will be provided

as needed. Damage to a home on East Sixth

Street displaced two adults. Assistance will

be provided when contact is made.

Firefighters continued to check homes

– many unoccupied – for any signs of gas

leaks or fire, walking down one street and

up another. The area was cordoned off

for public safety but residents and others

walked around assessing the damages for

themselves.

Sitting on the front steps of his trailer,

Steve McCoy surveyed some broken windows

in his camper and home. In front of

him was a gigantic curled piece of heavy

metal roofing that came from a home

kitty-corner across the street.

“It sounded like it blew for about 20

minutes,” he said, although in fact the

time frame was much shorter.

With Holt’s video to watch and a visit

Friday night from the National Weather

Service to assess it, they was determined

that the tornado was moving at 80 mph,

touched down first at 510 Rakestraw and

moved 1/10th of a mile before lifting off.

The cause – a spring storm of rain,

thunder and lightning “pushing east off

the Wyoming Range into the Upper Green

River Basin spawned a weak tornado that

impacted Marbleton at 12:30 p.m.,” according

to the NWS report posted at

www.weather.gov.

About 45 minutes later, lightning that

hit equipment sparked a small explosion

and grass fire in the Jonah Field; the fire

contained and heavy rains prevented its

spread, according

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