Rapids team takes shelter at Denver Airport after tornado touched down in area

Team forced off plane heading to Chicago after tornado touches down at Denver Airport

The first signs that Tuesday would be a challenging travel day for the Colorado Rapids happened about thirty minutes before the team was to board the 11:30 a.m. MT bus from Dick's Sporting Goods Park to Denver International Airport.

The group had moved Tuesday's training session up to 9 a.m. in anticipation of an early departure to Chicago for Wednesday's match against the Fire at Toyota Park (6:30 p.m. MT, Altitude TV). However as the players were eating lunch in the stadium, the staff received notification that the United Airlines flight to Chicago had been cancelled.

Team administrator Erik Carlson was quickly able to re-book the group on two separate flights to the Windy City, at roughly the same time as the previously scheduled flight.

However shortly after boarding the flights, the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning after a tornado was spotted by the airport at 2:20 p.m. The team got off the plane and joined the public in taking shelter at the airport basement an in stairwells. The warning was lifted by 2:50 p.m. and the team began re-boarding their respective flights 20 minutes later.

Carlson, while busy ensuring everyone was accounted for and back on flights, emailed ColoradoRapids.com the image above of the team waiting while a lady in white hair drew a sketch of the players. Another photo shows some members of the team calmly playing cards while waiting.

UPDATE: At 4:15, the plane carrying the coaching and support staff had mechanical problems, leaving the group looking for another way to get to Chicago.

Goalkeeper Clint Irwin and Director of Media Relations, David Lindholm, provided updates and images from the airport.