On Saturday evening, December 26, a series of severe storms ripped through North Texas, leaving devastated families and multiple fatalities. One tornado alone caused eight deaths.
The National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth said that multiple tornadoes of varying sizes left damage and destruction in the Texas towns of Garland, Rowlett, and Copeville. The EF-4 tornado that tore through Garland, Texas produced the most fatalities.
CNN reports that out of the 11 lives lost in this series of tornadoes, eight of them were taken by the EF-4 tornado in Garland. Garland Police Lt. Pedro Barineau said on Sunday morning that there were 15 people injured and 600 structures damaged.
Five of the deaths occurred when vehicles were hit by the tornado.
Residents of Garland described their experience as the tornado hit. Pat McMillian said that his family took shelter in a bathroom as the tornado ripped his neighborhood apart.
“All I heard was the roaring of the tornado, and my mom told us to get in the bathroom. Then we went across the hall to make sure everyone was OK. The church across the street was destroyed.”
Lafayette Griffin said that his family prayed and took shelter under a mattress.
“It was terrifying. They didn’t know if they were going to make it.”
Two of the three other fatalities happened in Copeville, Texas, a city northeast of Dallas, where an EF-2 tornado touched down. The third life lost was an infant in Blue Ridge.
The governor of Texas declared a disaster in four counties after this bout of extreme weather.
The weather in the Dallas area was so bad that flights were cancelled. A ground stop was issued for the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport by the Federal Aviation Administration. On Sunday, Southwest Airlines cancelled 70 flights, and American Airlines cancelled 170 flights out of the airport.
The Weather Channel reports that search and rescue efforts are taking place throughout Dallas in the aftermath of the weather. The families of those who lost their lives in the storms are still being notified, and names have not been released yet.
Soon, however, North Texas will be dealing with an entirely different weather crisis. Temperatures that were reaching a high of 82 degrees in Dallas on Saturday dropped to a low of 41 degrees on Sunday. Blizzard warnings have been issued for the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles, and the snow will reach Dallas at some point.
Unfortunately, the devastation in Texas wasn’t the only result of this storm system. The National Weather Service reported that 20 states were under some kind of weather watch or warning on Sunday. Half of the states were under a watch or warning for winter conditions, such as blizzards and ice, and the other half was under a watch or warning for flash floods and tornadoes.
In rural Missouri, six people died in flash floods Sunday night. Two separate vehicles were carried away by flood waters, one with two adults and the other with four. Pulaski County Sheriff Ron Long said that when flash floods happen at night, people can’t always tell that it’s a dangerous situation.
“Streams turn into rivers, and people sometimes don’t see the road has flooded over when they are driving at night.”
In New Mexico, there are some parts of the state that have received 16 inches of snow. The governor of New Mexico declared a state of emergency after some roads became impassable due to the weather conditions. The state is under a blizzard warning as of Monday.
Meanwhile in Oklahoma, more than 8,000 power outages have occurred. Crews are treating the state’s highways and bridges with salt and sand in preparation for extreme weather.
Make sure you’re prepared in case disaster strikes. Check out the Weather Channel to prepare for any severe weather that you may face.
[AP Photo/Rex C. Curry]