The combination of an unstable air mass and a frontal boundary triggered severe storms from Texas through Wisconsin on Friday with reports of at least a dozen tornadoes stretched across the central U.S.
The tornado outbreak produced at least one EF-3 tornado with wind speeds up to 160 mph in northeast Texas.
National Weather Service offices issued 73 tornado warnings with many centered over Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The first tornadic storms of the outbreak appeared to pop in northeast Texas and southern Oklahoma.
Several mobile homes were reported to be damaged near Bryan County, Oklahoma, along the Texas-Oklahoma state line, as strong thunderstorms pushed through on Friday afternoon.
A tractor trailer in nearby Durant, Oklahoma, was also flipped during the initial wave of severe storms.
Authorities in the Sooner State reported at least one person was injured after a home was destroyed in McCurtain County.
The storms also produced a 63 mph wind gust at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, where hundreds of flights were either delayed or canceled.
The atmosphere did not become prime for rotating supercells until they reached east of the metroplex.
Significant damage to homes was reported in the towns of Powderly, Chicota and other small communities in the northeast part of Texas. Witnesses near the Texas-Oklahoma border reported trees snapped and significant damage to structures.
One of the hardest hit areas in Texas was Lamar County. Damage was reported in the towns of both Paris and Powderly. The tornado that impacted these communities was given an initial rating of an EF-3 by NWS meteorologists.
Videos showed homes without roofs and damage to trees and power lines. Despite the destruction, officials said they had not received reports of fatalities but are working several injuries.
The tornado outbreak produced similar scenes in Cason, Texas, and Idabel, Oklahoma. Witnesses in both towns reported the combination of nightfall and the amount of destruction made venturing out unsafe.
Cody McDaniel, Idabel’s emergency management director, said he was hoping for the best after his town took a direct hit from a tornado. “Just stay away from Idabel,” McDaniel pleaded.
The first death was reported in McCurtain County, Oklahoma, where nearly 200 homes where either damage or destroyed, local authorities said.
“We have had reports of fatalities as a result of these storms. We’ve saw injuries as a result. We’ve saw partial and total destruction but God was with us,” the local hospital CEO said.
First responders were still combing through debris through the overnight hours looking for storm victims in Cason, Texas.
So far, officials have not confirmed any fatalities in the Lone Star but said search and rescue operations were still ongoing in several communities.
National Weather Service offices in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas will likely be busy over the weekend surveying at least half a dozen reports of twisters.
“It looks like we’ll be surveying at least a couple locations tomorrow and maybe some more on Sunday. Right now, the worst of the damage that we’re hearing is in Lamar County, near the town of Paris, Texas, specifically in the town of Powderly, where there may have been some significant damage there and possible rescue operations ongoing right now,” said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Dallas.
The damaging storms caused power outages in the Lone Star State to impact more than 55,000 customers. PowerOutage.us reported outages in Oklahoma and Arkansas topped nearly 7,000 during the heart of the storms.
Meteorologists are expected to survey the area region around Sulphur Springs, Texas, which is about an hour drive outside of Dallas.
“There were people were in their truck fixing to leave and actually ended up being trapped in their truck,” said Rodney Caudle, a deputy fire marshal in Hopkins County. “It’s very, very amazing just to see the amount of damage, you know, and no injuries. It’s just very awesome. It’s a good thing.”
The American Red Cross opened at least one shelter in northeast Texas for storm victims.
Prepare now! Stock up on Iodine tablets for the next nuclear disaster…
Although most people think spring is the time for severe weather, fall is the country’s second severe weather season. It can also be more dangerous because shorter days make tornadoes in the dark more likely. [Fox Weather]