By Daniel C. Houston
Tornadoes and violent storms raked through the Dallas area, Tuesday, crumbling the wing of a nursing home, peeling roofs from dozens of homes and spiraling big-rig trailers into the air like footballs. More than a dozen injuries were reported.
Overturned cars left streets unnavigable and flattened trucks clogged highway shoulders. Preliminary estimates were that six to 12 tornadoes had touched down in North Texas, senior National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Martello said. But firm numbers would only come after survey teams checked damage today, he said.
In suburban Dallas, Lancaster Police officer Paul Beck said 10 people were injured, two of them severely. Three people were injured in Arlington, including two residents of a nursing home who were taken to a hospital with minor injuries after swirling winds clipped the building, city assistant fire chief Jim Self said.
Arlington resident Ashley Sewell, 2006 Baylor graduate and self-described weather enthusiast, told the Lariat the storms caused significant property damage in her neighborhood, including an office building in which she used to work.
“It was very surreal,” Sewell said, “but what was even more strange is that this is my neighborhood, this is where I live, and just to see people I know coming out and surveying the damage [to their homes] is very strange.”
Sewell heard about the storms around noon Tuesday and took shelter in her Arlington home. After the storm passed around 4 p.m., she went outside to see for herself the impact the storm had on the area. She was greeted by broken windows, flipped Dumpsters and cars without windshields.
“Essentially the most shocking thing was the huge trees that had been torn apart,” Sewell said. “Some of them [were] uprooted, some of them snapped in half, and they were strewn across the street.”
The storm pushed cars into fences and toppled trees. Branches and limbs scattered across lawns and residential streets, and in one driveway, a tow-behind RV was left torn apart and crumpled.
“Obviously we’re going to have a lot of assessments to make when this is done,” Dallas County spokeswoman Maria Arita said.
Istiaque Ahmed, sophomore at the University of Texas at Arlington and personal friend of Baylor sophomore Rachel Miller, said he saw large motor homes flying through the air as he was driving in Arlington.
“It was kind of breathtaking because I had never seen anything like that before,” Ahmed said. “I had lived in Texas all my life; I had seen tornadoes before. But it was still crazy because I had never seen [vehicles in the air]. It was definitely one of the worst tornadoes I had ever seen.”
The confirmed tornadoes touched down near Royce City and Silver Springs, said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bishop. A tornado watch remained in effect until 8 p.m. Most of Dallas was spared the full wrath of the storm.
Yet in Lancaster, television helicopters panned over exposed homes without roofs and flattened buildings. Broken sheets of plywood blanketed lawns and covered rooftops. American Airlines canceled more than 450 arriving and departing flights at it hub airport by late Tuesday afternoon, and 37 other incoming flights had been diverted to different airports.
DFW Airport spokesman David Magana said more than 110 planes were damaged by hail. It wasn’t clear how many belonged to American Airlines, but American and American Eagle had pulled 101 planes out of service for hail-damage inspections.
Flights also were canceled at Dallas Love Field, which is a big base for Southwest Airlines. That airline canceled more than 45 flights in and out of the airport by Tuesday evening.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.