Swarm of Tornadoes Tears Through Dallas-Fort Worth Area

NEW YORK | Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 11:19pm EDT

More than a dozen tornadoes skipped through the densely populated Dallas-Fort Worth area in Texas on Tuesday, ripping apart homes, tossing tractor-trailer trucks into the air and injuring at least 17 people.

Cleanup efforts began in Texas on Tuesday after tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, tossing tractor-trailers like toys, forcing airlines to cancel flights and causing widespread damage. Photo: Life.com/Flickr

Tornadoes raked the Dallas area Tuesday, crumbling a 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, tells The Huff Post.

13 tornadoes might have touched down in north Texas on Tuesday, said Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“Somewhere between six and 13. I know that sounds like a big range, but until we actually go out and do the survey, the number is just approximate,” he said, according to CNN.

Seven people were injured in the suburb of Arlington. The majority suffered only minor injuries but one person hit by a falling tree was in critical condition, said Arlington police spokeswoman Cheryl Carpenter.

In suburban Dallas, Lancaster police officer Paul Beck said 10 people were injured, two of them severely.

According to Reuters, authorities were amazed that no one was killed given the intensity of the storm, the number of tornadoes and the population density of the area.

One tornado lifted trucks like toys in the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air.

“We’ve seen roofs blown off, houses totally flattened, tractor-trailers knocked over,” Moore said.

“Of course the windows were flying out, and my sister is paralyzed, 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.”

Meteorologists admit that the survival rate from a tornado is higher during the daylight hours because people are more likely to hear or see the warnings and take cover. Twisters are most deadly when people are sleeping at night, they said.

About 110 planes were damaged by hail and 400 flights canceled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, the eighth busiest in the world, stranding thousands of passengers. Another 40 incoming flights were diverted.

American Airlines canceled more than 450 flights, both arriving and departing, at its hub airport by late Tuesday afternoon, and 37 other incoming flights had been diverted to different airports.

Flights also were canceled at Dallas Love Field, a big base for Southwest Airlines. That airline canceled more than 45 flights in and out of the airport by Tuesday evening.

In Lancaster, Texas, south of Dallas, roofs were stripped to bare plywood and houses were speared by flying two-by-fours, tells CNN. According to the city’s mayor, about 300 buildings were damaged. A citywide curfew was put in place, and a shelter was opened.

By Tuesday evening, more than 47,000 homes and businesses in north Texas were without power, said a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

Sixth-grader Hailey Pellerin said she and other students had just started lunch when teachers quickly herded students back to their classrooms in their southwest Arlington elementary school.

“We had to duck and cover for two hours,” she said. The students were seated, lined up against a wall in their classrooms and covered their heads. “The power went out so it was dark and hot.”

On Tuesday evening, the storm system moved east into Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana with the potential of producing high winds and more tornadoes, Moore said.

The tornadoes touched down near Royce City and Silver Springs, said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Bishop.

April is the peak of the tornado season that runs from March until June. Bishop said Tuesday’s storms suggest that “we’re on pace to be above normal.”

Tuesday’s tornadoes in Texas could become more costly than a hailstorm nearly a year ago in the Dallas area that caused more than $100 million in insured losses. That April 15, 2011, storm was less damaging in terms of hail and winds.

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