Tornado Rips Through Dallas Area, Leaving Thousands Without Power - NBC Chicago
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Tornado Rips Through Dallas Area, Leaving Thousands Without Power

EF-1 tornado confirmed over Rowlett; more ratings to come Monday, Tuesday



    Family Survives After Severe Storm Rips Apart Home

    NBC 5 Reporter Diana Zoga talks to a woman who was home when severe storms moved through Dallas Sunday night, severely damaging her home. (Published Monday, Oct. 21, 2019)

    The National Weather Service confirmed at least three tornadoes touched down in North Texas Sunday night, destroying homes and cars, knocking down trees and cutting power to more than 140,000 people.

    Monday afternoon, NWS survey teams confirmed three twisters: an EF-3 tornado with maximum winds of 140 mph in North Dallas, an EF-1 tornado with maximum winds of 100 mph that touched down in Rowlett and an EF-0 that touched down in Wills Point in Van Zandt County.

    NWS survey teams are also expected to tour damage in Richardson, Garland and Sachse for further evaluations.

    NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist Jennifer Dunn told The Associated Press there may have been two or more tornadoes in North Texas, but reiterated that the extent wouldn't be known until later Monday afternoon, after survey teams assess the damage.

    A property damage estimate for Sunday night's storms has not been released.

    A preliminary tornado and damage track for the Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019 storm.

    There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries, according to a release from the city of Dallas, but Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said three people were hospitalized for evaluation of injuries that were not life threatening. As the storms pushed east out of Texas, one person was killed by a falling tree in Arkansas.

    NBC 5 received dozens of photos and videos from people across North Texas during the storms, including many showing tornadoes suddenly appearing when backlit by lightning. Several of the videos can be seen here.

    Tornado Touches Down in DallasTornado Touches Down in Dallas

    The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Dallas on Sunday.

    (Published Monday, Oct. 21, 2019)

    Power Outages

    Nearly 65,000 electric customers were without power as of 4:30 p.m. Monday, according to Oncor. That number is down from a high of more than 140,000 customers at 4 a.m. At that time, Oncor an estimated 51,000 customers are believed to be without power in Dallas County; 2,900 in Collin County; fewer than 200 in Denton County; 1,500 in Ellis County and 2,800 in Tarrant County.

    Oncor said Monday the wide-spread storms impacted not only North Texas, but customers in Waco, Temple, Tyler and Paris and that they're working with utility partners across Texas and in neighboring states to reconnect service as quickly as possible.

    Oncor said in many cases, downed vegetation will need to be cleared before service can be rebuilt and that customers should be prepared for the possibility of extended and multi-day outages.

    Tornado Video From Oak LawnTornado Video From Oak Lawn

    This was filmed near the intersection of Douglas and Cedar Springs in Oak Lawn.

    (Published Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019)

    "Currently there is not an estimated time of restoration, however we are working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible," Oncor said in a statement on its website.

    A shelter is available in Dallas at the Bachman Recreation Center for anyone who may need it. The address is 2750 Bachman Drive and doors opened at 2 a.m.

    Damage Reports

    Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a Local Declaration of Disaster Monday due to the damage. Jenkins added that the situation has not worsened and that the purpose of the declaration is to facilitate resource deployment for recovery efforts.

    "To speed out of state resources to aid Oncor with debris management and power line repair, I have signed a Local Declaration of Disaster and it has been forwarded to Governor Abbott," Jenkins said.

    Most of the damage within Dallas was limited to the northwest, with Evans defining the area as bordered by Royal Lane to the north and Northwest Highway to the south, as well as Harry Hines Boulevard to the west and Interstate 75 to the east.

    Texas SkyRanger also spotted significant damage in the Preston Hollow area.

    Search teams conducted primary assessments on accessible structures for six hours overnight, but were hampered by "limited access and lack of proper lighting," Evans said. A second set of teams were to resume search efforts in daylight.

    Seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in Northwest Dallas, but Dallas Fire-Rescue were searching to see if anyone was left inside, Evans said. Dallas firefighters had also received multiple calls from people injured in their homes by broken glass.

    Among the buildings destroyed in the tornado was DFR station 41, where the roof and other parts of the building were removed by high winds. None of the firefighters inside the station at the time were injured, Evans said.

    One of the first scenes that NBC 5 crews arrived at was the Floors Masters building along Harry Hines Boulevard, just south of Walnut Hill Lane. The entire front of the building collapsed.

    Another area that was hit hard was a shopping center near Marsh and Walnut Hill Lane. Photos show the front facade of the building peeled off.

    Dallas officers are going door-to-door, east of the 9600 block of Brockbank Drive, to check the status of residents after the severe storm left damages.

    There is more damage along St. Michaels Drive, just north of Royal Lane, about a mile west of U.S. Hwy 75. In that neighborhood, it seems most of the damage is trees and power lines that are down. Police officers are in that area blocking off the roads.

    Major damage was also seen in Richardson, near Richland College, where police were seen going door-to-door checking on people after the storm moved across. Our crews observed a lot of trees down in the neighborhood and some roof damage to homes in the area.

    The city of Richardson said in a release that thoroughfares "used by thousands of morning commuters" will be closed while workers clear debris and repair downed traffic lights. No injuries in the affluent suburb were reported, but more than 7,000 Oncor customers within Richardson lost power, including some school campuses.

    Major roads currently closed and under repair in Richardson are:

    • Centennial Blvd. between Bowser Rd. and Grove Rd.
    • Abrams Rd. between Buckingham Rd. and Park Bend Dr.
    • Bowser Rd. between Centennial Blvd. and Buckingham Rd.
    • Coit Rd. at Spring Valley Rd (open but treated as a 4-way stop)

    Road crews are working to clear blocked roadways of debris and to repair down traffic lights as soon as possible, but major thoroughfares used by thousands of morning commuters will be closed while the repair work is underway. (Published Oct. 21, 2019)
    Photo credit: City of Richardson

    In the area near I-635 and I-35E, Meletio Lighting was also hit hard. NBC 5 crews there observed windows of that business blown out and many of the lighting fixtures in the store damaged.

    A radio station, KNON-FM, went off the air as the studio suffered major damage from the tornado. Lew Morris, one of the hosts of "Reckless Rock Radio" was preparing for the show at the station while another show was broadcasting. He told The AP in a Facebook message that the power at the station went out first, followed by the "distinctive whistle" of a tornado within three minutes.

    He said there were three staffers in the building, which he described as having a lot of large glass windows. He told the host of the show that had been broadcasting to follow him to the bathroom, to get away from all the glass.

    "We then heard the building shaking and could hear the glass windows shattering everywhere along with debris banging around. We waited until all the noise died down," Morris told the AP. "We walked out to see the studio he was just broadcasting from destroyed."

    Morris — whose own car was covered by a tree — said the third staff member took shelter in a stairwell. It's unclear when the station will begin broadcasting again, but Morris says he's heard there might be a temporary set-up from which they can broadcast.

    School Closings

    Citing extensive damage to campuses, The Dallas Independent School District canceled classes Monday at 19 of its campuses, district spokeswoman Robyn Harris said on NBC 5 Today.

    Dallas ISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa said Monday afternoon that two campuses are likely damaged beyond repair and "a total loss" -- Walnut Hill Elementary School and Cary Middle School. DISD's Thomas Jefferson High School, which suffered catastrophic damage in the storm, will be closed for the remainder of the year and Hinojosa said he hoped students would be ready to return by next August.

    Classes were also canceled at three Garland ISD schools due to power outages while both Midlothian ISD and Richardson ISD canceled classes at all of their campuses Monday due to extensive power outages and storm damage. Richardson ISD says it anticipates all schools to reopen on Tuesday.

    Click here for a full list of school closures.

    Check back and refresh this page for the latest developments.