Texas tornado outbreak kills at least one
At least one person was killed during severe weather that surged around the I-35 corridor from San Antonio to North Texas on Monday evening.
The Associated Press reported a 73-year-old woman was killed in North Texas. The woman lived in the Grayson County community of Sherwood Shores, located about 70 miles north of Dallas. More than a dozen people were injured.
The storms in North Texas were part of a powerful system that caused several tornadoes in and around the Austin area as well.
Jon Zeitler, the science and operations manager with the National Weather Service covering the Austin-San Antonio area, said at least four tornadoes were confirmed. However, that number could climb as survey crews assess the damage Tuesday.
“We think one started off near Round Rock by Interstate 35 and ended up near one of our weather service radars in the town of Granger, Texas. And that's a good 20 [to] 25 miles, but it probably wasn't continuous the whole way," he told The Texas Newsroom.
Zeitler called Monday’s band of storms a “pretty rare event” — something that might occur once every 15 or 20 years.
There was significant damage to homes and buildings reported in the storm’s aftermath. In Williamson County, KUT reported County Judge Bill Gravell said he would likely declare an emergency declaration. Gravell said the town of Jarrell was also hit with a tornado and volunteers would be spread out across the area to assess the damage throughout Tuesday.
Some residents in Round Rock were still without power Tuesday afternoon, KUT reported. City officials asked that residents contact the utility Oncor for estimates on when service will return. The city also announced a webpage for people seeking to assist others, which includes taking donated items to the Dell Diamond.
In Jacksboro, which is about 60 miles northwest of Fort Worth, the roof was torn off a local high school. Tuesday morning, light fixtures were clinging to supports in what was left of the school’s gymnasium, reported KERA. The elementary school was also hit, vehicles were overturned, and some residences were damaged. Frances Wilson, a 90-year-old Jacksboro resident, told KERA she survived the storm after seeking shelter in her shower with her 13-year-old Shih Tzu.
Gov. Greg Abbot held a press conference Tuesday in Jacksboro after he received an update about the state’s response to the storm and surveyed some of the damage. He signed a state disaster declaration for 16 of the affected counties, which include: Bastrop, Cass, Cooke, Grayson, Guadalupe, Houston, Jack, Madison, Marion, Montague, Nacogdoches, Panola, Rusk, Upshur, Williamson and Wise.
Zeitler said the weather was due, in part, to what he described as “super cell storms” where rain and hail and wind keep their energy as they come to the ground.
“The longer a storm lasts, it gives them more chance to basically get their rotation organized and for the hail to get larger,” he said. “So, we ended up with large hail and we ended up eventually with tornadoes.”
The storm system was expected to move east Tuesday toward Louisiana and Mississippi, which were already under tornado watched early afternoon, according to the National Weather Service.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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