Severe storms swept through northern Texas Tuesday morning, damaging businesses and homes and downing power lines, but most residents seemed to be counting their blessings in the immediate aftermath.
At least five tornadoes formed in the region, the National Weather Service confirmed in a preliminary report, adding that the total could rise to as many as 12 as assessments continue. Many of the storm surveys will be completed on Wednesday.
The tornadoes confirmed in the initial report included one with a long track through Wise County, another west of Paris, and at least three in Tarrant County. The Wise County twister was an EF-2, the NWS said, while the one in Tarrant County was an EF-1 and two EF-0s that were lifted and reformed with an interrupted track.
The storm, which also brought torrential rain and hail the size of a ping pong ball, left at least seven people injured but no fatalities.
Outdoor sirens blared as the National Weather Service issued several tornado watches and warnings throughout the morning. Commuting was disrupted and at one point travelers stopped DFW International Airport had to shelter in place.
The NWS said radar detected a tornado between River Oaks and Sansom Park around 8:10 a.m. The system cut a two-mile path through North Richland Hills, where about 20 homes and businesses were reported damaged — but no injuries.
In Grapevine, five people suffered non-life-threatening injuries and businesses and vehicles were damaged – including a crumpled tractor trailer, a car wash that partially collapsed and a roofer’s office with part of its roof missing.
All Grapevine-Colleyville ISD schools had to take shelter after the power went out. Grapevine Middle School students were evacuated after a natural gas smell was detected near the school, which also suffered roof damage and a water leak, the district said.
Damage also led to the closure of several Grapevine businesses, including a Sam’s Club, Walmart, and the Grapevine Mills shopping center. DFW Airport and Dallas Love Field both experienced major travel disruption Tuesday morning.
Oncor reported that up to 8,000 customers in Grapevine were without power at one point, but that number had dropped to about 3,700 by late Tuesday afternoon, according to police.
Two injuries have been reported in Wise County, according to the county’s emergency management agency, both involving people traveling in their vehicles. One person was hit by flying debris and another was injured when his vehicle overturned due to the high winds. One was taken to hospital, the other was treated at the scene.
When the sun began to shine in northern Texas late Tuesday morning, public safety and emergency authorities were already assessing the damage. The National Weather Service will combine the data and its own surveys to create a cumulative report.
‘Have you taken your breath away’
While surveying the damage to his 2-year-old home near Northwest Highway and Lucas Drive in Grapevine, Randy Popiel was in high spirits Tuesday afternoon.
“I have to say, now that the storm is over and I know we’ll be okay, it’s been pretty cool,” Popiel said as he watched the crew fix up his roof, which had a large piece of metal in it. stabbed. through the wainscoting to his attic.
As his wife and dogs took cover in a closet, Popiel said he watched from a back window as debris spread through his neighborhood.
“You felt the pressure drop and it literally took your breath away, but I thought I should at least see what could kill me,” he said.
As Popiel made his way to his backyard, he circled a piece of wooden fence that lay flat in his driveway. As he turned the corner, he saw several uprooted trees, fallen patio chairs, and his sunroom propped up against another shed.
“It’s actually mostly cleaning up for us, and we’re very lucky with that,” said Popiel. “It could have been total devastation.”
‘This can be solved’
A few blocks away, past broken power lines and signs, Trinity Thompson, an employee of Waffle Way, a family-owned business, shared the same relief.
“It was terrifying and it all happened so fast, but I’m glad to see this is fixable,” she said.
Thompson said she was bringing coffee to a customer when she heard someone yell for everyone to come down. She ran to the back room of the restaurant, where she heard what sounded like strong gusts of wind, followed by glass shattering on the floor.
“It was over in 30 seconds, and thank goodness, because we didn’t get enough warning for this kind of weather, let alone worse,” she said.
On Tuesday afternoon, the power was still out in the restaurant and a cut hose in the building had caused a gas leak.
Thompson said it was hard to see the restaurant in such condition, especially knowing that they just finished renovations last month, including installing a new awning.
“That awning is down the street somewhere now,” she said. “But things are just things. They are replaceable.”