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Large Tornado Hits Ground North of Denver; Texas Polygamy Ruling; Oil Price Surge
Aired May 22, 2008 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: We are watching severe weather here in the CNN NEWSROOM. A tornado on the ground.
At last check, I believe, Chad Myers, this was about 50, 60 miles north of Denver. Is it still on the ground?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It still is on the ground. And it was five miles southeast of the town of Windsor, Colorado, about 10 minutes ago. And that storm has been moving to the northwest.
And I'm afraid it really did roll right over the town of Windsor. We will try to get as much news on that town as we possibly can, but this was a large and dangerous tornado on the ground, according to spotters. It is moving to the east of Fort Collins, and it will probably just brush near the Wellington area of northeast Fort Collins.
Fort Collins, you're going to get the storm and the hail. But you don't right now have the rotation. The storm would have to turn to you. And right now this storm hasn't moved at all. It's been going straight to the northwest. But we will try to figure out what we've got from Windsor when we can get it.
Here is a live shot from Denver. And this is literally, like you said, 50 miles away. And those skies look ugly.
This is going to be one nasty day in Colorado. We already have our first watches and obviously now our first tornado on the ground.
We'll try to keep you up to date for all those people there in Windsor, and also maybe even back a little bit farther the Southwest. This tornado has been on the ground for a very long time -- Brianna.
KEILAR: So, Chad, you said it could clip the edge of Wellington. So what do we tell the folks there? .
MYERS: Yes. Well, you need to be taking cover anywhere near this thing. And even -- I would probably want you to take cover in Fort Collins as well, not because you're going to get a tornado on top of your house, but you still have an awful big chance of winds to 60 or 70 with hail, and that could break out windows. I don't want you looking out those windows trying to be an iReporter.
Just wait until it goes by, and then get -- see where the town of Windsor is? You see that word "Windsor." That's where the rotation is. And that's going to go up toward the town of Wellington and not turn left into Fort Collins. But we're only talking a few miles here, so be on the safe side if you would -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Chad. We'll be checking in with you on this. Thanks.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. We're also following other developing news here, and this one involves that polygamist ranch in Texas.
Our Sunny Hostin joins us on the phone.
A ruling just came down a short time ago, Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Texas saying that the state had no right to take these 460 children away from that ranch and away from their mothers.
Sunny Hostin, tells us what this means.
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, the mothers here asked for a writ of mandamus. And what mandamus means in Latin is "we command." So a writ of mandamus is typically issued by an appellate court to compel a lower court to do something else.
And what the parents asked -- or the mothers asked in this case was to be allowed to keep their children and to have their children. Now, this is judge -- these judges didn't go that far, but they did -- they did direct and command the district court to vacate its order, granting full conservatorship to this Texas department, Family and Protective Services.
So what that means in my view is these kids are likely, are likely going back to their mothers with some other parameters around. Maybe they won't have sole rights with their kids, maybe they'll share rights. Who knows at this point?
It's really going to be up to the district judge to fashion something else. But this court really did find that the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services could not be the sole conservator for these kids.
LEMON: It's very interesting. I mean, removing that many children in the way they did it, you would think that they would have crossed their Ts and dotted their I's. So we don't know exactly what's going on here, Sunny. But I guess the big question is, what sort of recourse do these parents have if, indeed, this holds up and it continues the way it is?
Can they sue? I mean, what do they do?
HOSTIN: Well, you know, it's hard to tell. I think what they really want, obviously, because they filed this proceeding -- or these court papers, they want their kids back. And so -- and I think that is what they're going to get.
LEMON: Wow. OK.
Sunny Hostin breaking it down for us.
Again, if you're just tuning in, a Texas appeals court has ruled that the state had no right to take those 460 children from that polygamist ranch in Texas. The children could possibly, possibly -- we're not sure if they're going to go back to their parents.
But at 2:30 Eastern, there's going to be a press conference to let everybody know exactly what the next steps are in this case. And we'll bring that to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Thanks again to Sunny.
KEILAR: With crude oil and gasoline both hitting record prices yet again, oil company executives, they were back on Capitol Hill.
CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff has been watching.
What have we seen so far, Allan?
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, you know, you might expect them to get a real attack on Capitol Hill, you know, especially with gas prices so high, oil soaring every single day. But you know what? It's been almost more of a love fest, if you can believe that.
There are certainly some congressmen who are very sympathetic to the oil industry, including a few congressmen from Texas. No surprise over there. And so they've been saying, hey, you know, what can we do about rising gasoline prices, rising oil prices?
Well, how about drill more? Some softball questions have been lobbed at some of these oil executives. And they've said hey, open up ANWR, open up the Arctic National Wildlife region so we can do more drilling there.
They said there is so much oil over there, if we have access, that should be a bit of an answer. That should help to bring prices down.
The executives were also asked, well, what about this whole idea of increasing taxes, windfall profit taxes on the oil companies? Let's have a listen to one of the answers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to reduce supply, which is going to end up ultimately in higher prices for the consumers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHERNOFF: There you go. So the oil executives saying, let us drill more, don't tax us.
Yes, there's some criticism of the oil companies, but this is by no means an event where we're seeing the oil companies really getting slammed -- Brianna. KEILAR: What happened to the hot seat, Allan? They were supposed to be on the hot seat. That's what we heard, right?
CHERNOFF: Right. Well, the hearing is not over. And certainly it's possible that there will be some very tough questions coming. But absolutely a very good question.
Look, the fact is, oil companies are among the biggest companies here in the U.S. And some congressmen know where their donations come from. So that does count for something.
KEILAR: Very true.
Allan Chernoff for us in New York.
Well, what would you ask big oil? Today CNN is giving you a chance to make your voice heard.
Peter Robertson, vice chairman of Chevron, will be a guest in "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer today. And you can go to ireport.com to submit your question. And it could be used on the air. That is this afternoon at 4:00 Eastern on "THE SITUATION ROOM" with Wolf Blitzer.
LEMON: Well, Ford is betting that $4.00 gas is here to stay. Declaring fuel prices have reached a "tipping point," the automaker today announced sharp cutbacks in SUV and pickup production. Workers who build those vehicles face some unexpected time off.
Here's Mary Conway of CNN affiliate WXYZ.
MARY CONWAY, REPORTER, WXYZ: Ford announced the production changes to its workers this morning, including telling people here at the Wayne, Michigan, plant of a five-week layoff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: June 20 to July 28. And two weeks of that is vacation.
CONWAY (voice-over): Workers at Michigan Truck in Wayne were told this morning that production will shut down for five weeks this summer as Ford shifts production away from the big SUVs made here. President and CEO Alan Mulally saying they are reducing SUV production by 15 to 20 percent because of plummeting sales and shifting production to more fuel-efficient cars.
ALAN MULALLY, PRESIDENT & CEO, FORD: We could have waited longer to assess whether the economic challenges are structural or more short term in nature. But we decided that we need to act now.
CONWAY: At this point, no plants will close entirely. But they will be reducing the number of workers through targeted buyouts. MULALLY: We have an agreement with the UAW that, you know, manufacturing facility by facility, that we'll be able to continue the buyout process and try to match, you know, the fundamental production capacity to the lower demand at those facilities.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The big three should have seen this coming with these oil prices. We all need our jobs.
CONWAY (on camera): Ford president Alan Mulally said it was important to take decisive action right now. They can always change the production cuts later if the economy starts to turn around.
In Wayne, Michigan, I'm Mary Conway for CNN.
KEILAR: No word yet from any other major airlines on whether they'll follow the lead of American and start charging for every piece of checked baggage. That's right. Most airlines already charge for the second checked bag, but American now says it will charge $15 for the first bag.
At the airport in Dallas, some passengers voiced concern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to factor into everything. You know, it's going to factor in to where people stay, rental cars, everything. Everyone is going to be looking at every penny, dollar, wherever they go, whatever they're doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: Carry-on bags are still free, at least for now. At least for now. And the airline industry has been losing big money because of rising fuel prices. Of course, you've heard about that. It's been raising fees and cutting flights to compensate.
So, how do you feel about paying for checked baggage? Are the extra fees justified? Do you think it's just a rip-off?
You can send your response to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be reading those responses on the air.
LEMON: Well, this certainly isn't the first time airlines have found ways to pinch pennies. Back in 1987, American Airlines said it saved $40,000 a year by eliminating one olive from each salad in first class. Southwest says by taking three peanuts out of each bag, it saved $300,000 a year. And Northwest says it saved $2 million a year by dumping its half-ounce bag of pretzels. We're talking 18 pretzels in each of those bags.
KEILAR: What if they just eliminated the bag and poured some pretzels into your hand? I can only imagine how much...
LEMON: What if, what if, what if. KEILAR: Who knows? OK. Let's not give any ideas out there, right?
OK. Want you to know that we're keeping a close eye on a fire that's racing across the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is south of San Francisco.
This has doubled in size in just a couple of hours. Firefighters say that multiple homes are threatened here, and families in the Gilroy area are clearing out just in case.
And another fast-moving wildfire, it has chased dozens of families from their homes. This is north though of Orlando, Florida. More than a thousand acres of dry forest and marshland have burned in Lake County. So far though, no homes have caught fire.
LEMON: And let's check on all this, including that tornado in Colorado.
Chad Myers joins us with the latest check.
Chad, go ahead.
MYERS: Don, we know it's been on the ground, it's been on the ground a long time. The town of Windsor, we're really concerned that there was some big-time damage in there. We're trying to get a hold of anybody in Windsor.
Moving up toward Wellington now, missing Fort Collins proper, downtown Fort Collins. But still, the eastern edge of that storm right there, all the way across I-25, we do know that there's been some damage with the cell. Obviously it was a large and dangerous tornado, according to the National Weather Service and storm spotters out there.
This was not just a tornado that was indicated by Doppler Radar. And although the radar signature was amazing on this storm, this was a very large Greensburg, Kansas-type tornado. We hope it doesn't get in the way of any towns as it rolls on up toward the northeast at 30 miles per hour.
We'll keep watching it for Wellington. We know it's still on the ground for you.
And we still have winds there in California. The winds are 20 to 30 miles per hour. And those winds are not going to help out those fires at all. That will actually probably fan the flames there right around Gilroy.
And OK, so you think to yourself, you're the helicopter pilot and you have all this smoke coming out for miles and miles of fire line. Where do you start? Where do you dump that little thing you've got there? Because it's so minuscule compared to the size of the fire line they have going right now.
This is completely out of control -- Don. LEMON: All right. Chad Myers, thank you.
KEILAR: Well, if you're getting forgetful, remember this -- if you can -- it doesn't mean that you're losing your marbles. It may just be a matter of knowing too much.
LEMON: All right. We're following some developing weather news. And man, look at that -- live pictures from our affiliate KRON, Santa Clara County, California.
Strong winds are fanning a fast-moving wildfire in the Santa Cruz Mountains in northern California there. Fire officials say the blaze has now spread to about 1,000 acres, maybe more.
Multiple homes here are threatened, mandatory evacuations under way. And you can see the winds here, making it difficult for firefighters. And we had someone on from Cal Fire, a spokesperson saying at that point, which was just about an hour ago, they weren't even fighting it from the air because of the strong winds. And they were concerned about the safety of firefighters there.
This is an mountain range about 10 miles west of Gilroy, California, is where this broke out. And of course, we're following this, as well as our Chad Myers, following this, as well as other news happening here.
Chad, let's start with the West Coast first.
MYERS: Yes, those winds are blowing 20, 30 miles per hour right now. And the relative humidity down to about 20 percent. And the fire lines getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
It's always easy to get a fire put out initially if you can get to the point of ignition in the first few minutes, because your fire ring, your ring around the fire, is not as large. Well, now this ring is going. And with those winds of 30 miles per hour, we're even getting sparks flying through the air, advancing the flames ahead of the real fire line itself, causing more fires in advance of -- and the people are actually getting in the way now.
Just saw a couple of pictures there. It looked like an RV was there, a couple of people kind of running for their cars. And this is catching up.
We know that there are mandatory evacuations in this area right now. But you just see that building right there, and you hope for the best at this point in time. Once you're evacuated -- that's why they say try to cut down all those trees around your house. And then you don't want to because you want the shade, but, well, it's just such a dangerous thing when those evergreens go up so fast.
And it hasn't rained there in California for quite some time. It was very hot all last week, temperatures there over a hundred degrees for about four days straight. Now a little cooler. But still, the winds at 20, 30, 40 miles per hour can't be stopped right now. We're going to have to wait until sunset and those flames will start to settle down because the winds will start to settle down, as what we call the jet stream decouples from the atmosphere.
The jet stream is going really fast, up around 30,000 feet high. And then you start to see some of those winds up there kind of tumble to the ground in eddies. That's how you get gusts.
And as the gusts come down, that happens in the middle of the day, the gusts are the highest. Well, when you stop the sun from going up and down, from heating the air, the jet stream cuts itself off and then you don't get those gusts on the ground. That will be some help.
LEMON: Hey, Chad, behind you I see that radar is going crazy.
MYERS: Oh, yes.
LEMON: Talk to us about Colorado.
MYERS: Well, this thing is about, last thing I knew, crossing I- 25, very close to the towns of Wellington and the city of Fort Collins, but pretty much between the two towns. And that's some good news because there's not too much out there between the two towns.
You've got kind of Windsor Reservoir out there, you've got Mountain Vista Greens Golf Course. I'm sure they had quite a view of the tornado from that golf course.
And then back out as it moves to the north and west again, a very odd direction for a storm. But it's on the east side of a low- pressure center, and that's the way the wind goes out there.
And this thing is a large and dangerous storm. We do know now that there has been quite a bit of damage in some of the towns, about 40, 50 miles northeast of Denver. We're trying to get some crews on the way.
LEMON: All right, Chad. Thank you.
MYERS: You bet.
KEILAR: The next time you can't remember something, don't worry. It happens to everyone. And it doesn't necessarily that mean that you're losing brain cells. I know that's a concern of some people.
Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen back with us now.
And this is I guess some encouraging news.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is here. There's some intriguing research that says, look, there's no question the brain ages and suffers and that, as you get older, it really is harder to remember certain things, and you don't think as quickly. But what this research shows is that many older people compensate for this natural aging of the brain.
Let's take a look at what these studies show is going on.
What they found is that younger people, college students, when they were asked to do certain memory games, they used -- they activated the right prefrontal cortex. That's the area that you see right there in red.
Now, some seniors when asked to do the same games actually did better than the college students because they use both sides of their brain. In other words, these older, successful brains compensated for natural aging. So it's certainly good to know that it is possible to compensate for this process.
KEILAR: So is it a matter of basically training yourself? Is that what it is? How could you do that?
COHEN: In some ways that is one way to put it, that you have to sort of -- your brain has to kind of teach itself to compensate for aging. And that is why your experts say older people should make sure they're doing crossword puzzles or try to learn a new language. Do something, because when it comes to the brain, the "use it or loose it" maxim really is true.
KEILAR: But our brains in general, they sort of suffer with age a bit.
COHEN: They do. They do.
KEILAR: Is there any particular area where maybe like a fine wine, it actually improves with age?
COHEN: There is. And it has to do with words. And this I thought was very interesting that an excerpt from the National Institutes of Aging explained to me. That there are several studies that show that as we get older into our 50s or 60s or 70s, that our vocabulary increases, and that we actually have a better understanding of the words we're using. So vocabulary is one thing that seems to get better with age.
KEILAR: Oh, that's good, because I feel as if mine diminishes daily. So...
COHEN: Because you're so old, right?
KEILAR: Yes. Maybe because I'm young. Maybe because -- maybe as I get older...
COHEN: Right. You have that to look forward to. Absolutely.
KEILAR: Oh, let's hope. Let's hope.
COHEN: Absolutely. OK?
KEILAR: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks -- Don. LEMON: All right. We're following developing news here. We told you about the weather. We also want to tell you about that polygamist ranch in Texas.
Well, all of these children, according to an appeals court there, they shouldn't have been taken off the ranch. That's what that court is saying, and that the mothers in all of this have won.
We're going to continue to follow that with our legal experts here, also our correspondents who are on the ground.
And we want to tell you, at 2:30 p.m. Eastern, just a few minutes, if it starts on time, they're holding a press conference in Texas to explain all of this, exactly what happens. We may find out what happens to those children immediately in this press conference, coming up in just a little bit right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: We want to get to Chad Myers.
Chad, look at this. Amazing. This is hail.
This is coming to us -- and this is taped, from Colorado. But Chad, we want to talk to you because you've got another tornado on the ground. And talk about this video. My goodness.
MYERS: Well, we do have a tornado, and we're going to re-rack that video. We're going to rewind it and play it from the start, because what you couldn't see -- you could see the hail in the foreground, but what you couldn't see was absolutely an EF-4 or an EF- 5 tornado on the ground.
And we do know that there's been major damage in the towns of Wellington. It was crossing I-25. It's lost a little bit of its punch right now.
LEMON: There it is.
MYERS: But that is actually a tornado on the ground. It's hard to tell, but you can see that little light wedge off to the left.
MYERS: That's where the tornado is not on the ground yet. This is a dangerous, wide, maybe half-mile, maybe one-mile-wide tornado, with winds over 200 miles per hour. And to get in the path of that storm would be really very, very dangerous. And there were towns that did get in the way.
This is how black the sky was. Here goes the rain and the hail. We do know that there was baseball-size hail at a time in the town of Windsor. Let me -- I'll read a couple things here, a couple more things to go on, because we do have that new tornado warning, and that's near Dacono, 25 miles north of Denver. And this storm is to the east of Erie, up near Puritan.
And that's going to be in some farmland, range land, but yet still some suburbs of Denver up there, between Denver and Fort Collins. But you know what? We're going to -- let's work on this video, because it was -- really, the tornado video at the beginning of that series was so incredible.
LEMON: That's it, yes. There it is, Chad.
MYERS: There it is. And that just has to speak for itself. There's the road right there. People are stopping as it gets over the road.
That is a high plains, that is a Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska tornado. That's, boy, F-3, F-4 at the very least. Figure out how far things were thrown, how much damage was done.
We do know that there's a lot of damage in the town of Windsor at this time. A lot of the hail in Windsor was golf ball-size. And many of the windows on the east side of the homes in Windsor were actually blown out because that's the direction the winds were blowing as the storm rotated right over them.
That is -- that's just a breathtaking picture of a giant tornado.
LEMON: And you're right, it really just speaks for itself. And you know, we're just going to continue to show our viewers this, because it's not often that we get to see this sort of thing almost as it happens. This is brand new video, it's not live, but taken just moments ago of someone who caught this on the ground.
Scottie (ph), let's look at the beginning of this moment, the black clouds.
MYERS: There's some new video that we're just getting in. There it is.
MYERS: That's what I wanted to show you right there.
MYERS: This is the same video of the storm earlier when the video crew was not in so much of the storm. At some point in time they got in the rain, they got in the hail, and they got in the hail course, so you couldn't see it as defined as it is. But clearly on the ground.
This is 5,000 feet up in the sky. I mean, you know it's the Mile High City. And so that's how high this storm is already. And then you have all this humidity that's been rushing in. The winds have been blowing up the hill because it's a hill from Nebraska up into Colorado. It goes uphill all the way. I've driven it many, many times.
The only thing you can say about a storm like this is obviously it's going to be devastating to many people that it did hit. But you can see it when it's out there. If you get a storm like this in Virginia, North Carolina or Georgia, the trees get in the way, you can't see it coming. When you can see this high plains -- you can see how flat this land is, this is range land, this is some -- there are some irrigations, some center pivot irrigations here, because there is a little bit of the Ogallala aquifers still under this area. But a lot of farming communities through here. And then the town of Windsor, not a farming community, 12,000 people in that town, I'm afraid was right in the direct path of this storm.
We'll see -- I hope it moved to the right of the -- just to the east of that town a little bit, but I'm afraid that it went right through it.
LEMON: And you can see, Chad, the spin in the video on the left, on the right side, you can see sort of the wind spinning around here. And I don't know if you would call it a cloud, but you can see it being pulled into that system. And it's just amazing. Even the rain, as the hail comes down, it looks like it's being pulled towards that system.
Is that correct?
MYERS: That is, that's called in-flow. It is literally a gigantic vacuum cleaner. It wants to suck all the air in. You can see that all that air -- see how that hail is blowing into the storm?
LEMON: Yes, that's yes.
MYERS: Yes, it's sucking all that air in. And in order to make the hail at the center point of the mesocyclone, the low pressure is up itself, that air has got to be going up 50, 60 or 70 miles per hour. That's called the updraft. That updraft goes all the way up, all the way 40-45,000 feet in the sky. And then that air is kind of exhausted. And so it can come around again -- around and around and around as the big suction spot on the ground. Well, you can see it right there.
LEMON: And, Chad, as we continue to watch this, I want to remind our viewers, IReport.com. Or go to CNN.com and look for the IReport logo.
Of course, we always give you this warning. We want you to stay out of harm's way. But if you have pictures or some video like this, many times our IReporters give us some really good information and some good video and pictures. And of course, we'd love to get that on the air for you.
Go ahead, Chad, continue. You were talking about the draft or anything that's not bolted down, it appears here, not substantial enough, is going to get pulled into a system like this.
MYERS: Oh, absolutely. There was a -- we knew of such a thing called the Fujitas.
Is that car sliding off the road?
It looked like he was driving on the hail and actually sliding, like he was sliding, like he was driving on ball bearings.
The suction and the updraft of the storm sucks in everything around it. And when you get storms, Don, that are all lined up, there's one storm, two storms, maybe they're only five miles apart, they kind of fight for the energy and not one storm can be the big dog. This is the big dog.
This is called a supercell tornadic thunderstorm. It's the only storm within 30 miles of itself. It gets to eat all of the food. It gets to have all the humidity, it gets all of the in-flow, all of the updraft. And it becomes the big, vibrating, circulating storm.
And we're going to go to some live pictures here, I think. Yes, there we go. From our affiliate KUSA.
Hard to tell what that is. It's probably just a rain shaft there. You've got maybe -- there could be because of the -- I don't know where they're shooting it from. It could be a little downdraft there.
LEMON: You can see a better perspective underneath the banners. You know, sorry about that. Maybe if we do a double box. There you go.
You can see that perspective from the ground there of exactly what those clouds are doing.
Now Chad, listen. You say this is probably F-3, F-4.
MYERS: Oh, at least. The size of that, thing could be -- oh yes, that's where I was going with the Fujita Scale.
LEMON: If we were seeing structures, obviously just pulled right out of the ground. And give us the intensity.
Go ahead, Katie, with the information.
What were you telling?
MYERS: F-0, F-1, Don. Kind of a lose the shingles off the house --
LEMON: Hey, Chad, I hate to cut you off. But I want you to help me wit this.
Brenda Stroman, Windsor Fire Department, joins us now by telephone.
MYERS: Oh, thank goodness.
LEMON: Brenda, tell us what's going on there.
And Chad Myers and I will talk to you.
MYERS: Brenda, did the town get hit?
BRENDA STROMAN, WINDSOR FIRE DEPT.: ... report this tornado touched down within the Windsor community. I have several units in the field trying to assess the damage at this time and respond to calls that are coming in through our dispatch center.
We have opened our emergency operations center for the city. Its located in the basement of the fire station which is where I was when this hit. It came right over the top of the station. We have lots of hail damage, numerous types of wind damage. There's lots of landscaping damage. I am not able to verify in the field what other kinds of damage or injury I have at this point, because my units have not radioed back to let me know that. Of course, they're very busy at this time.
LEMON: OK, we missed the beginning of that, Brenda.
So tell us again, if you can take us through the reports that you're getting there, the damage and what you're hearing.
STROMAN: OK. At the time of the initial response from the dispatch agency saying that there was a tornado headed in this direction from other areas of Weld county, we have had numerous reports of touchdowns within the community of the town of Windsor.
Most of those seem to be originating in the southeast corner when they initially began. The tornado passed over the top of the fire station at 107th Street. We have a lot of landscaping damage, tree damage, the hail was golf ball sized, lots of rain as you can imagine.
We are responding to numerous calls within the community. All of my units out in the field are on those calls trying to assess damage and report to those calls. At this point I have no further information from my units in the field.
LEMON: Chad Myers, do you have anything?
MYERS: Ms. Stroman, you haven't heard anything from the -- from any medical centers of any injuries, have you?
STROMAN: Not at this point. But as you can imagine, our dispatch agency dispatches all of Weld county. And the tornadoes hit in several other areas of Weld county. So you know, the ambulance service is doing its very best to respond to all the calls that are originating. And so we are waiting to hear further information. And we are responding as an advanced life support facility to all of those calls.
MYERS: Well, Ms. Stroman, you had a very large tornado very close to your town. I really do hope you missed it. But we have been seeing pictures as it moved to the north of your town. And it was an F-3, F-4, maybe bigger than that. And any homes or structures hit by that tornado would have been devastated.
And we wish the best for you. And I know you're going to be very, very busy. But if you get anything new for us, would you please contacted us back? That would be great.
STROMAN: OK. Thank you.
LEMON: Thank you, Ms. Stroman.
So Chad, again, we're look at this storm. And she is confirming everything that you've said about it. How it just eats everything up around it. She says golf ball size hail, went right over their fire station there, right in the middle of town. And she's getting reports of damage all over, numerous calls.
MYERS: Yes. The fact she only got some structural and some landscaping damage and golf ball size hail probably tells me that she was east of the tornado.
LEMON: OK. Hey, Chad, we've got some other breaking news.
We're going to continue to follow this.
MYERS: You're welcome.
KEILAR: Let's take you to San Angelo, Texas. A press conference going on, this is an attorney for the mothers of the kids taken by the state of Texas from that polygamist ranch.
Of course, a recent ruling today that the state did not have the right to seize the children.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At this time it is not clear when these families will be reunited. Our attorneys have been reviewing the next legal steps that are necessary in this process. We remain dedicated to continuing to represent these women as the battle continues.
I will now take questions.
QUESTION: How long can CPS they hold the children after this? Can they hold the children until the appeal, if they do try to appeal?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Court of Appeals decision gives the trial court 10 days to follow the court's order. And if they do not -- if the trial court does not follow the order within 10 days, mandamus would issue.
QUESTION: Can you tell me the mothers -- (INAUDIBLE) -- all mothers, how do you read this? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Court of Appeals decision covers only the mothers we represent and their children. However, we believe the reasoning in the Court of Appeals decision would apply to all of the children. They specifically held that the department was required to prove reasonable efforts other than removal, and that they didn't so do so. I believe that's going to apply to all children and all mothers.
QUESTION: You said they have ten days. Does that mean they can hold the kids for ten more days? Try to explain that in layman's terms.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now the department has custody. The court has issued a writ of mandamus ordering the trial court to vacate those orders that gave the department custody. She has 10 days to do it. If the court does not reverse those orders within 10 days, so that's 10 days that those orders are still in effect, the Court of Appeals will act.
QUESTIONS: What happens if the state appeals?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it depends on what the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court does.
QUESTION: If they grant a stay, what happens -- let's go down that road. If they apply for -- if they petition for a stay and it's granted, what happens? Everything stops and we try over? Or do the children go back and then we try over? Can you explain --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is a stay, then that means the trial court orders remain in effect until the Supreme Court would rule.
But I don't know what the department is planning to do that. You'd have to ask the department.
QUESTION: What does it do for these hearings?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The status hearings -- right now the orders are in effect.
QUESTION: Everything will stop?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, the trial court's order is still in effect until the trial court follows the writ of mandamus issued by the Court of Appeals.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have heard that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Court of Appeals specifically held that the department was wrong in saying the entire ranch is a household. They said the evidence was completely to the contrary, that there was actually proof of independent households. And so they cannot apply if there were any physical abuse in any one of these individual households, they cannot apply it to the entire ranch under the Court of Appeals decision.
KEILAR: You are listening there to an attorney for the mothers at that polygamist ranch in Texas where more than 460 kids, or at least believed to be kids at the time, were removed from that ranch early last month. Today a Texas appeals court ruling that the state did not have the right to seize those kids from that polygamist sect ranch, that Child Protective Services did not prove the kids were in danger and needed to be removed. We're going to continue to follow this here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: Also we have some breaking weather news. Check that out. That is a tornado on the ground, according to our Chad Myers who is checking all this for you. Amazing video.
And also -- we're going to continue to follow this breaking weather story. We've heard from officials in Weld County, Colorado that they have numerous reports there of damage, and they are just getting it. They're just now assessing that damage.
Our Chad Myers working with our weather team in the severe weather center right there. He's going to update us in just a second.
KEILAR: This just in to the CNN NEWSROOM. We have learned that the House Judiciary Committee has served a subpoena on Karl Rove, former top aide to President Bush. This has to do with the case of former Alabama governor Seligman (ph) -- pardon me Siegelman, a Democrat who is really the most successful Democrat in a Republican state. For years really he was investigated over and over by the Department of Justice until finally a jury found him guilty of bribery. Some criticism of that case both from Republicans and Democrats.
But again, former top Bush aide, Karl Rove has been subpoenaed before a congressional committee, the House Judiciary Committee. This also has to do with what, if any, role the White House had into the firing of U.S. attorneys.
We'll continue to monitor and bring you any details as they come to us.
LEMON: We're also following some developing weather news, severe weather, and it is coming from the middle part of the country. There you go. Sort of the middle West part of the country. We're looking at video. This is video you don't get to see a lot, this sort of tornado on the ground.
As our Chad Myers has been saying, this system just pulling anything that doesn't have any weight or not bolted down, right into that system. This video in moments as go from our affiliate KUSA in Weld County. We also heard from a spokesperson for Weld County who said her name was Brenda Stroman. She said that they had several reports, numerous reports, I should say, of damage in that area, and that a tornado had come down and went right over their fire department there in town. This is -- for the first time we're getting live pictures of the aftermath of this.
Look at this. These big rigs turned over because of the wind. You heard, again, our weather expert say, when you're looking at a possible F-3 or F-4, or anything in that area, you're going to get some pretty severe winds, winds strong enough to do this sort of damage and even much more serious damage, worse damage than this.
Chad Myers, take it away.
MYERS: Yes, that picture on your right is one of the first videos that we got from the storm. It's impossible to tell you how big that storm is, not being on the ground, not seeing the damage that was done. EF-1 takes the shingles off, EF-2 takes the plywood off the roof of your house, EF-3 takes all the structure but the walls will still standing. EF-4, you can kind of find that there was a house there, but most of the outside walls are gone. And if you get to the EF-5 categories, all the walls are gone and all you have left is either a slab or a basement.
And here are now the newest live pictures from KUSA. They have their helicopter up. I can't even tell you what that was. But we do know that Weld County -- this is a large county. I don't know the number of square miles, but it's -- huge. This storm started well south of the town and then moved right through Windsor. And we're going to wait for these guys to fly to the town of Windsor. We know they're on their way.
But this is just little damage on the way. You will see and you'll notice that -- there you go. There's damage to that house right there, but that's not bad. That house is fine. The people inside are fine. Maybe some windows are gone, but that house can be rebuilt. But this is a very wide-open, open-range kind of place. I know it well. I grew up in Nebraska and drove through Weld County many, many times.
And it's wide open so people could see this storm coming, at least we hope they could, and get out of the way. The warnings were way ahead of this storm; the warnings were 20, 30 minutes ahead of the storm because I know the National Weather Service knew that this was going to be a large and dangerous tornado. Then they got confirmation with tornadoes on the ground by storm spotters.
There's the town of Windsor. I guess we can get a little bit closer. We can do some other things -- remember we talked to Brenda.
LEMON: Yes. I remember that.
MYERS: Let me show you this. This is Google Earth, this is the new and improved version that we have. She was at the fire station, and that's the fire station right there by that little fire symbol. Not only does Google just have these aerial pictures now, now they're starting to drive street by street by street. They have driven through this little town, 12,000 people in this town. You'll begin to see -- we're going to fly you right down to the street; we're going to get onto the camera. And now we're going to show you, as we spin you around, we're going to show you the fire station.
Unbelievable. There it is -- as soon as you go over to the left, you can see the doors, the garage doors for the fire trucks. That's the most amazing video I've seen, other than obviously the tornado that was live. We do have -- I see a reporter on that same camera, and I know we don't like to see reporters without --
LEMON: Look at the damage behind them.
MYERS: Yes, I can see the damage. That's what I was kind of looking at. Look how much there -- I don't even know where that is yet, but I'm sure we'll be getting that.
We're going to keep these guys up. This was a devastating tornado. Somebody -- right now everything sketchy on where it hit. But it hit something. When you get a tornado that's that size, that's a half mile wide, in a range land, it's going to miss a lot. There's a lot to miss out there. But at some point it's going to hit something because before the tornado hit Greensburg, Kansas, a thousand people in the United States knew where Greesburg, Kansas was.
Now I can tell you a lot of them know where it is and how it got hit by that devastating tornado. Somebody here got hit by a similar tornado.
LEMON: And Chad, as you were talking here, I was just doing some checking of the wires here, and the Web sites of the stations in that area. This one is according to the "Associated Press" and it's what we -- when we talked to Brenda just a little bit ago, she said the same thing. Those trucks that you were looking at -- there's about 50 miles north of Windsor and they said it was at least, at least, two of those big rigs that were turned over by that. Trucks were overturned and buildings were damaged when a large tornado touched down about 50 miles north of Denver.
No injuries they say reported so far. None reported so far. Let's see -- they said the buildings were damaged, electricity, of course, knocked out. The spokesperson in Weld County said two tractor-trailer rigs overturned about ten miles southeast of Windsor, and the electricity was knocked out there. They don't know how many customers the electricity -- how many customers don't have electricity.
And the tornado -- and Chad, you can correct me if I'm wrong -- moving towards Fort Collins, a city about 130,000 -- some 20 miles to the northwest of Windsor.
MYERS: Yes. It missed Fort Collins, thank goodness. It kind of went up toward Wellington, which is about eight miles north of Fort Collins. As you get up there, the storm really did dissipate. They took the tornado warning off and it was just a severe thunderstorm warning on it. But there -- so far I don't have anything from Fort Collins at all except some small hail. And as it moves -- Greenley and Fort Collins, kind of side-by-side communities there -- drove right through those two communities. A lot of population in those two towns. So we're lucky that it did miss is that.
Don, we are -- this is just the beginning. We didn't know much about any piece of breaking news, we're kind of getting it in? It's going to take some time to gather this up. It's going to take some time to figure out whether Windsor got hit or not.
Did Gilchrist get hit? We know it was half mile wide through that town. It's a pretty small town, only about ten streets wide and four streets tall. But it doesn't matter -- if it hit somebody --
MYERS: Yes, damage is here.
I don't know what town they're in here. I know it's Weld County, but this -- probably 100,000 square miles in Weld County. It's a very large county there in northeastern Colorado.
LEMON: All right, Chad, hold that thought --
MYERS: That's big time damage right there boy --
LEMON: Yes, hold that thought.
Obviously he's doing a live report from one of our affiliates on the ground. We're going to check with that affiliate as well as our other sources and resources on the ground there in Colorado.
Details -- more details -- and new pictures as they come in to the CNN NEWSROOM.
LEMON: All right. Severe weather popping up in the middle part of the country here. It has been quite a day and quite a day for video. We're just getting a lot of it in. And reporters there on the ground just starting to get on the ground to assess some of the damage after this tornado. And this is confirmed that it is a tornado that hit Weld County in Colorado.
Brianna Keilar here, as well as Chad Myers, following this developing story in the CNN NEWSROOM. But just look at that. That's amazing to see.
We don't see a lot of that, Chad.
MYERS: No. That's an amazing tornado. That's very impressive.
That was a large storm. It had a giant hook on it. I was on it as soon as I got it -- soon as I was on there I said, man, we've got to get on with this tornado because -- people watching, they're so few and far between are these sirens out there. Miles and miles between people sometimes. And so there aren't sirens out there for everybody to hear.
If you're watching CNN, we wanted to let you know that this is coming because this was a big one. We knew it was a big one.
KEILAR: And Chad, also -- we want to remind, Chad, our viewers that they can go ahead and send IReports. We know a lot of people get their video cameras out, they even get their cell phones with video capability out so that they can go ahead and send IReport which you can access at CNN.com.
But I'm wondering, you had mentioned before, this is a -- you called it a big-time tornado. What are you seeing here in this video that's telling you that? And explain to us what we're seeing here. This almost looks like those balls you see in the Lottery when they get jumbled around, everything going this way and that way being sucked into the storm.
What's going on here?
MYERS: Well right in front of this car right here, that's the tornado. It is so wide, you can't tell it from a cloud. One of the reporters that I was just listening to on the satellite here said that they didn't even realize how close they were to the storm because they didn't realize that that was actually a tornado. They just thought it was kind of a dust cloud. That's kind of what it looked like. As it was driving itself across the plains it was picking up dust.
A tornado in Oklahoma can be red because the soil is so red. But here, this is the -- when you see this coming, you almost have to feel helpless. They say don't try to out run a tornado, get in a ditch. This is when you want to get out of your car and get out of it. By the time that tornado is done with your car, there's no room for you inside of it.
KEILAR: And when you're looking at this, Chad, what about the structure of this tornado is telling you that it may be an EF-4 or even more?
MYERS: Well, clearly just the width of the base of the storm. It's what we call a wedge tornado. There are just certain things that storm chasers and meteorologists kind of use, we have a slang; it's a logo.
There's a rope tornado, it looks like a rope. And then there's a tube tornado, and it kind of looks like a tube, bigger than a rope, but not that big. Then you have this thing called a wedge. And this tornado could probably go down another 30 or 40 -- I don't want to say yards, but at least another two football fields before it touched the ground.
So this is on the ground so wide, you've got to think that this column or this funnel could be well down into the Earth. But the Earth is in the way, so it's not. And then this suction cloud, this whole suction spot, multiple vortexes inside the storm. You can't see it but there are probably more than one tornado circulating inside of this big dust cloud in here.
And that's called a supercell thunderstorm. It was all by itself. It was not in a line of storms. Sometimes we call that a squall line. When you hear the word squall line, you can get some wind damage and probably some hail. But not a supercell, EF-3, 4 or 5 like that tornado was at the time.
LEMON: Hey Chad, the big question, of course, where -- which way is this thing headed?
MYERS: Well, that storm --
LEMON: The system.
MYERS: -- that storm is dead, thank goodness.
There was another storm -- let me go check some data here. There was another storm that was rotating that was not that far from Longmont. But that looks like that's about done right now, too. That tornado has moved out of that area and it has moved up to the north. And that's -- Loveland.
There's a storm -- there's a little bit of a circulation over Loveland there. But really nothing to worry about. This is all now west of Fort Collins, almost into the front range. It's going to be very hard to get a tornado that lasts into the mountains because the circulation just gets torn up so badly.
And -- there you go. Those are the tornadoes that we know of. The line there between Greeley and Loveland and -- there's another town between Loveland -- really that would be the Fort Collins area, it got missed as well.
So finally, finally some news that these storms are dead for now, but there's still a tornado watch out there. There are going to be more storms. And if this one spun like this, wait till it gets a little bit hotter, they're going to spin just the same all day long.
LEMON: And you -- I remember we were in the middle of some other news and we got right to you, Chad. And you said if you're in this area, take cover. And certainly whatever that you were predicting there might be some trouble for it, it came to fruition here.
No reports of any injuries right now. But obviously severe damage, we can see the pictures just coming in. But again, no injuries right now. We heard from folks on the ground that said they were in the middle of something that was horrible and they were trying to assess the damage there on the ground.
The next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.