This article is over 6 years old


9 Tornadoes Strike North Texas, Killing 11

Nine tornadoes raced through North Texas Saturday night, killing 11 people and damaging hundreds of homes.

Nine tornadoes raced through North Texas Saturday night, killing 11 people and damaging hundreds of homes.

In several suburbs, emergency responders spent Saturday evening searching for residents in homes and surveying the damage. The surveying continued into Sunday.

Of the 11 who died, eight people were killed in automobile accidents in Garland at Interstate 30 and George Bush Turnpike. Some of the cars appear to have been thrown from the highways and onto the ground, Garland police say. North of Garland, three people died in Collin County, including an infant.

As the sun rose Sunday morning, television news helicopters showed scores of homes leveled in Garland, Rowlett and to the south of Dallas in Ellis County. Roofs were ripped off, leaving huge piles of debris on yards and in streets. The storms uprooted trees and flipped over cars. Bands of rain fell throughout the day Sunday. Homeowners spent the morning in the cold rain picking through their belongings.

In Rowlett, northeast of Dallas, the mayor declared a state of disaster. Rowlett City Manager Brian Funderburk says 23 people were injured and “huge amounts of damage” from a tornado is widespread but concentrated in the eastern part of the city. Rowlett has a 24-hour curfew in the affected areas. The extent of the injuries are not known, and officials said there are no reports of missing people. About 6,000 homes were without power Sunday morning. Officials say there were reports of looting late Saturday.

The National Weather Service says there were 11 preliminary tornado reports across North Texas — crews have confirmed nine tornadoes after surveying the damage Sunday. Crews will continue their work Monday.

An EF4 tornado hit Garland, with winds of up to 200 mph, the weather service says. An EF3 tornado hit Rowlett, with winds of up to 165 mph. Two tornadoes have been confirmed in Collin County — including an EF2 tornado near Copeville and an EFO tornado near Blue Ridge.

Flooding is a concern across North Texas, with a flash flood watch in effect through 6 a.m. Monday.

Rowlett: ‘We will rebuild’ In Rowlett, several homes were destroyed and power lines were down. Power was out throughout much of the city Saturday night, Rowlett Mayor Todd Gottel said. He encouraged residents to check on their neighbors to make sure they are OK. The mayor encouraged people to stay off the roads to keep them clear for emergency responders. “Please keep Rowlett in your prayers and pray for those injured,” Gottel said. “Pray for those that have property damage. I think I am most amazed at the outpouring of affection and willingness to help. Words cannot express my gratitude. We will rebuild and we will become stronger as a community.”

In Garland, about 600 buildings were damaged, including homes, apartments and commercial property. Fifteen people were taken by ambulance to hospitals with various injuries, although none appear to be life-threatening. As of Sunday morning, 3,000 customers were without power in Garland. Garland Animal Services employees are taking lost pets to the city shelter at 600 Tower Street.

Dallas County Sheriff’s office spokeswoman Melinda Urbina said several emergency teams were dispatched to Sunnyvale, just east of Dallas, following reports of trailers on fire and possible injuries in a mobile home park. Nearby roads had been shut due to debris and that the damage to the homes was likely extensive enough to render some “inhabitable.”

The American Red Cross has set up shelters in Rowlett, Garland and Midlothian.

Interviews: Survivors talk about the storms

Churches damaged south of Dallas

The National Service says there was a tornado south of Dallas. There were several reports of damage in Ellis County, south of Dallas. Stephanie Parker, the emergency manager for Ellis County, posted on Twitter: “We have destroyed and damaged homes. Please do not get out on the roads if you do not have to.”

There were several reports of damage in Glenn Heights, along the Dallas-Ellis County line, including the Ovilla Road Church of the Nazarene. Nearby, Harvest of Praise Ministry was also damaged. Pastor Kevin Taylor was in the church during the storm, but got out and is safe, he said in a Facebook message. Harvest of Praise plans to hold a service at 10 a.m. Sunday. “Be prayerful,” Taylor said.

‘Extremely dangerous’ tornadoes

Tornadoes and severe thunderstorms pounded North Texas over several hours early Saturday evening. Shortly before 7 p.m., the National Weather Service said there were indications of a “potentially strong” tornado near Garland and Rowlett. Weather service radar showed strong rotation with winds reaching at least 140 mph near the intersection of Interstate 30 and the George Bush Turnpike.

At 7:15 p.m., the weather service reported strong circulation in a storm moving to the north between Farmersville and Princeton in Collin County. Minutes later, the weather service said a "large and extremely dangerous tornado" was located near Princeton.

North of Dallas, in Collin County, Copeville was hit hard. The Collin County Sheriff's Office reported downed power lines and debris in the roadways.

At 11 p.m., about 25,000 customers were without power across North Texas.

Updates: We’re updating Sunday’s weather developments here.

Interview: American Red Cross on the tornadoes

NPR talked with Anita Foster with the American Red Cross in North Texas:

Pictures of the damage

National Weather Service radar

Flooding in Dallas

A flash flood warning was in effect for Dallas County Saturday night. Dallas police reported several roads were covered by water, including Mockingbird Lane near Dallas Love Field.

Mavericks game delayed

The game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls was delayed Saturday because of reports of tornadoes. The start time at American Airlines Center was pushed back about 30 minutes to 8 p.m. as severe weather moved through downtown Dallas. American Airlines Center officials were working to get fans in the arena about two hours prior to game time, before gates were set to open. Some fans were caught in drenching rain on their way into the building.

‘Crippling’ blizzard in forecast for Texas Panhandle

Bands of rain will hit North Texas overnight and into Sunday morning. As Saturday’s tornadoes left their damage in the Dallas metro area, the Texas Panhandle is bracing for what the weather service is calling a “life-threatening and crippling” blizzard. At least a foot of snow is expected and a blizzard warning is in effect for the Panhandle until noon Monday.

North Texas could see a mix of rain and snow Sunday night into Monday, but don’t expect much of the snow to stick to the ground since temperatures will stay above freezing.

Between 6 to 15 inches of snow are in the forecast for the Texas Panhandle, which includes Amarillo and Lubbock. High winds will drive wind chills as low as 10 below zero and cause low visibility due to blowing and drifting snow.

Other parts of Texas and Oklahoma, including El Paso, are under winter storm warnings, while North Texas, central Oklahoma and central Kansas are under a winter storm watch.

Widespread rain has prompted flash flood watches in eastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, most of Arkansas, central and southern Missouri and Illinois and central Indiana.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 KERA-FM. To see more, visit KERA-FM.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required