|Scenes of devastation in Dallas.|
Meteorologists said it was the first time two 'extremely dangerous' tornadoes hit two large metropolitan areas at the same time. Arlington and Lancaster were worst hit with both areas being declared 'disaster zones', while damage was reported in at least nine cities in five counties. But incredibly no-one so far been reported killed by the staggering series of six to 12 twisters believed to have touched down at some point in the area. 'I have never seen two tornadoes hit two large metropolitan areas at the same time before,' AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said, reports Newsroom America. Brandy Kemps, who filmed one of the tornadoes in north Texas, told ABC News; 'Debris was flying right in front of me in the air - shingles, dirt, tree limbs. The tornado funnel was coming right at us, then went directly behind the apartment building I was in.' One tornado tore through the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, grabbing two trailer trucks and tossing them, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air. In Sunnyvale, Heather Montoya said the dark funnel shook her entire home and left uprooted trees inside and her furniture scattered all over her property. 'It was insane. We have a lot of windows in our house. The whole house started shaking and in five seconds it was completely done,' she told ABC Dallas. A grandmother in Diamond Creeks, Forney, where 20 to 30 homes were severely damaged, sought refuge in a bath-tub with her grandchildren as the walls of her home collapsed. She was forced to hold on to her 18-month-old grandson's legs as the powerful winds almost swept him away.
Most of Dallas was spared the full wrath of the storm. Yet in Lancaster, where around 300 homes were destroyed, television helicopters panned over exposed homes without roofs and flattened buildings. Broken sheets of plywood blanketed lawns and covered rooftops. A pastor at one Lancaster church saw debris swirling in the wind, then herded more than 30 children, some newborns, into a windowless room to ride out the storm. Nearby at the church's school, about 60 children hid in another windowless room near the women's bathroom. An entire wall of Cedar Valley Christian Academy was taken out in the storm. Pastor Glenn Young said he didn't know when the school might re-open. 'I'm a little concerned,' Young said. 'This is our livelihood.' Residents could be seen walking down the street with firefighters and peering into homes, looking at the damage after the storm passed. Devlin Norwood said he was at his Lancaster home when he heard the storm sirens. He said he made a quick trip to a nearby store when he saw the funnel-shaped tornado lower, kick up debris and head toward his neighbourhood. 'I didn't see any damage until I got back home. We had trees destroyed, fences down, boards down, boards penetrating the roof and the house, shingles damaged,' said Norwood, 50, an accountant and graduate student. Officer Paul Beck said 10 people were injured in the suburb, two of them severely. Assistant Arlington fire chief Jim Self said three people suffered minor injuries there, including two residents of a nursing home who were taken to a hospital after swirling winds clipped the building. Around 50 homes were damaged in the area. 'Of course the windows were flying out, and my sister is paralysed, so I had to get someone to help me get her in a wheelchair to get her out of the room'" said Joy Johnston, who was visiting her 79-year-old sister at the Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "It was terribly loud." At the nearby Omni Mandalay Las Colinas hotel, tornado sirens sounded, alerting guests to get to safety. 'The hotel has not been evacuated but we do have guests under cover,' said a telephone receptionist at 421-room hotel. The storm is believed to have levelled several homes, and tens of thousands of others are without power. - Daily Mail.The National Weather Service was investigating reports that up to 18 tornadoes touched down during a relatively short time frame.
|Tornadoes that have devastated parts of Dallas and Fort Worth are vertical funnels of rapidly spinning air. |
Giant tornadoes, believed in this case to be around 46-56,000 feet tall, have winds of up to 150 miles an hour.
"We're at just the beginning of a very unusual" tornado season, NBC weather anchor Al Roker said on TODAY. April 2011 saw a record 758 tornadoes, he added, "hopefully we're not on track for that this year." Weather.com meteorologist Greg Forbes told TODAY that the season is already "running about 50 percent above average for the number of tornadoes. We've had record heat," he added, and "that warmth is a big ingredient that provides the instability for the storms." On Tuesday, one twister was seen on video tossing semi-trailers into the air with ease. The storm system moved into the Southeast on Wednesday and the weather.com published a map showing the danger area for thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes there. The danger zone stretched from the Texas coast and parts of East Texas to northern Florida, and from Kansas to Virginia. The greatest chances of a severe storm Wednesday were in Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Mobile and Lake Charles. - MSNBC.WATCH: Survivors reflect on the damage caused by the tornadoes in Dallas.