Weatherford Democrat

May 16, 2013

Weather with a twist

Storms packing hail, high winds and tornadoes rip across North Texas

Weatherford Democrat

— From Staff Reports

Mother Nature delivered a powerful punch Wednesday evening through a complex of super cell storms that produced tornadoes, large hail and wreaked havoc across North Texas.

One of the hardest-hit areas was in and around Granbury, where homes were reported destroyed with multiple people injured. Officials were reportedly conducting rescues of people from debris and looking for other trapped in rubble. Cleburne in Johnson County was also being pounded around 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

There were no immediate reports of injuries in Parker County from at least several twisters either confirmed or reported by law enforcement and storm spotters.

The storms began to build west of Mineral Wells and multiplied and intensified as they marched east and northeast. Residents in Mineral Wells saw up to grapefruit-size hail that damaged homes, vehicles and businesses.

As that storm approached Parker County, spotters reported circulation in the skies south of Mineral Wells. That was the part of the storm that produced a sighted tornado on the ground in the southern part of Millsap at White Bull Lane and Farm-to-Market Road 113, where the home of the famous White Bull was heavily damaged, though the residents were said to have not been home at the time.

It was not certain if the brick home’s damage was from a tornado or caused by high winds. Other structures northwest of the residence were also reported damaged, including a destroyed barn, but there were no reports of injuries.

A second tornado was soon reported near Interstate 20 at the 409 mile marker. Moving southeast, that twister was possibly one that was reported on the ground in the 2700 block of Tin Top Road.

Karen and Chad Sanders had a close call in the 4700 block of Tin Top Road.

The couple was home watching television when their show was interrupted with news of the weather and they went outside.

“It sure was still,” Karen Sanders said.

Though they couldn’t see anything, they heard a noise and went back inside.

In the house with their two dogs, the two listened to the wind knocking things against the door as their ears popped.

Afterward, they found that the winds had pulled the roof and wall from an outbuilding several yards from the house.

A part of the metal roof was wrapped around a large tree in the driveway, the rest was missing.

Two trees on their property were also knocked over. One large tree was uprooted and fell across the top of the family’s barn, collapsing it and damaging Sanders’ car and their water well underneath. A fence and pool were also damaged.

Just feet away, the house was unharmed.

The couple say they have insurance coverage and were looking for a place to stay Wednesday night because they were left without water.

A tornado and damage was then reported in the Spring Creek community off State Highway 51 in southern Parker County. A tornado warning would then go up in southeastern Parker County near Annetta as the first wave of severe storms began to exit the county and move into Tarrant and northern Johnson counties.

Several wrecks were reported during  the height of the storm. There numerous reports of power lines down and trees damaged.

Weather damage stretched from Millsap southeast to Cresson but no injuries were reported, Parker County Judge Mark Riley said Wednesday night.

About a half dozen homes in Millsap were reported to have structural or roof damage and about the same number in Cresson, he said. In between there were several buildings that also received damage.

The number of tornadoes had not been confirmed Wednesday night but he was told there were several, Riley said.

There was also speculation that a house fire outside Aledo was possibly caused by lightning but that had not been confirmed as of Wednesday evening, according to Riley.

There was no count on the number of individuals displaced but the county had not received any calls seeking assistance, Riley said, adding that family and friends were quick to help out those in the community.

The county’s Emergency Operations Center was set up prior to the storm’s arrival and helped emergency personnel respond to the situation, according to Riley.

Emergency personnel in Parker County were also on standby and prepared to help out in Hood County if needed.

The City of Weatherford initiated its urgent notification system alerts for residents signed up to receive them.

The extent of the damage and injuries was not immediately clear in Granbury, about 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth. However, police reported the hardest hit area was the Rancho Brazos subdivision and adjoining areas along Lake Granbury.

At Stumpy’s Lakeside Grill in Lake Granbury, the storm took diners and workers by surprise. Some people rushed inside from the patio and ducked under tables as the wind gusts and hail started, but nobody was injured, said Eric Martinez, a cook. Then they looked across the lake and saw several homeowners’ boat docks “just get torn apart,” he said.

“The boat docks just flew off, and they’re actually gone,” Martinez said, adding that the boards and other debris landed in some yards.

The restaurant didn’t appear to sustain any damage, but cars in the parking lot had dents from the large hail, he said.

Donna Martin, the bartender at the VFW in Granbury, said she was watching the clouds circulate in the sky when the tornado sirens went off. She said softball-size hail also pounded the area.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.