At a Glance
- Severe thunderstorms hit the South Sunday night into early Monday.
- Passengers had to evacuate planes at Memphis International Airport.
- A tornado struck Dallas, damaging homes, businesses and knocking out power to tens of thousands.
- The EF3 tornado had winds up to 140 mph, according to the National Weather Service.
- Storms killed four people in Oklahoma and Arkansas.
- At least two public schools are likely a total loss.
From Texas to Tennessee, officials on Tuesday continued to assess the damage caused by severe storms and a series of tornadoes.
In Dallas, thousands of public school students in Dallas will be attending classes in different locations for at least the rest of the school year after a strong tornado left a 15-mile-long trail of destruction in the northern part of the city Sunday night.
Dallas schools superintendent Michael Hinojosa said in a press conference Monday that two schools will likely have to be completely rebuilt and could be closed for 18 months or more, and another will need extensive repairs and will likely not reopen this school year.
The schools — Walnut Creek Elementary, Cary Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School — are all within about a mile of each other in a section of the city where numerous homes and businesses were destroyed or damaged by the EF3 tornado.
More than 2,300 students attend the three schools, Hinojosa said. They will continue classes at other locations in the meantime.
The tornado that ripped through Dallas late Sunday was one of several severe storms that left a trail of damage across the South.
No deaths or serious injuries were reported from the tornado that struck about 9 p.m. CDT, according to a news release from the city of Dallas. Only three people were taken to local hospitals for evaluation of non-life-threatening injuries, the release said.
A National Weather Service survey team on Monday rated the tornado EF3, with estimated top winds of 140 mph.
Four deaths were attributed to the storms in other states, including two teenage boys who died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Oklahoma. They were using a portable gas generator inside a travel trailer after power was knocked out in the area, the Associated Press reported.
Storms also caused damage in Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri overnight and Monday morning. Passengers were ordered off planes at Memphis International Airport after a tornado warning was issued for the area Monday morning. The airport reported minor damage.
As of 6:30 a.m. Tuesday, more than 31,000 customers were still without power in Texas. More than 13,000 homes and businesses had no power in Arkansas, and about 10,000 were without power in Tennessee, according to poweroutage.com.
(MORE: Dallas Tornado a Reminder the Fall Second Severe Weather Season Is Here)
In Dallas, homes and businesses were damaged, trees were scattered across roadways and tens of thousands of people lost electricity. Damage was also reported southwest of Dallas in Midlothian, Texas, and to the northeast in Richardson, Texas.
This home in Rowlett, Texas, was damaged when an EF1 tornado touched down Sunday, October 20, 2019, according to the National Weather Service office in Forth Worth.
(Twitter/NWS Fort Worth)
The National Weather Service office in Fort Worth sent survey teams across the region to assess the damage. Along with verifying the EF3 tornado in Dallas, the teams also confirmed that two other tornadoes struck Dallas County: an EF2 tornado southwest of Garland and an EF1 tornado at Rowlett.
Many roads in the north Dallas area were closed by fallen trees or standing water, and numerous buildings collapsed or had their roofs ripped off.
(MORE: Home of Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin Damaged by Tornado)
Seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in northwest Dallas, but Dallas Fire-Rescue was searching to see if anyone was left inside, spokesman Jason Evans said. WFAA reported that a convenience store collapsed in the storm, but the clerk told the station that everyone who was inside made it out safely.
The roof of a Home Depot store collapsed, and water gushed from broken pipes. A store employee told the Dallas Morning News workers had been sent home early ahead of the storms and no one was inside when the storm hit.
Parts of an apartment complex at Glenrio Lane and Ricksaw Drive were reduced to rubble, KXAS reported, but no one was injured.
“Considering the path that the storm took, it went across a pretty densely populated part of our city, I think we should consider ourselves very fortunate that we did not lose any lives, no fatalities and no serious injuries in last night’s storm,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in a news conference Monday morning.
Firefighters responded to “no less than 50 calls for utility wires down and over 40 natural gas leaks,” Dallas Fire-Rescue Chief Dominique Artis said at the news conference. He also said the roof of Fire State 41 collapsed, but no firefighters were injured.
The studio of KNON-FM, a Dallas radio station, suffered major damage from the tornado. One of the station’s hosts, Lew Morris, told The Associated Press he and another employee took shelter in the bathroom.
“We then heard the building shaking and could hear the glass windows shattering everywhere along with debris banging around. We waited until all the noise died down,” Morris said. “We walked out to see the studio he was just broadcasting from destroyed.”
A meteorologist said the situation in Dallas could have been much worse.
“Anytime you have a tornado in a major metropolitan area, the potential for large loss of life is always there,” Patrick Marsh, the warning coordination meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, told the Associated Press. “We were very fortunate that the tornado did not hit the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium or the State Fair, where you would have had a lot of people that were exposed.”
The tornado, which traveled more than 15 miles and was on the ground for 32 minutes, crossed over two major interstates.
“If that happened at rush hour, I think we’d be talking about a different story,” Marsh said.
A possible tornado ripped over the roof of this home in Richardson, Texas, on Sunday, October 20, 2019.
(Facebook/City of Richardson
A number of homes were heavily damaged in the city of Richardson, Texas. Firefighters walked through neighborhoods checking on residents.
“It’s gone. It’s destroyed. Everything is gone,” Mena Gedlu told the Dallas Morning News. The roof was torn off the home she and her brother, Gizaw, share.
Severe storms packing damaging winds and large hail also struck parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee Sunday night into early Monday.
In Memphis, Tennessee, passengers at Memphis International Airport had to evacuate planes after a tornado warning was issued. Social media posts said passengers had to leave their bags on the planes.
People were told to shelter in the airport restroom. Everyone had to go through security screenings again.
The Cottonwood Apartments, southeast of downtown Memphis, sustained major damage in the storm, according to WMC-TV.
Residents were unable to leave or enter the complex because of debris, the Commercial Appeal reported.
“The whole roof is off in parts of the complex, you can see straight into the apartments,” resident Mary Graham told the newspaper.
Giant trees and power lines across much of the Parkway Village area. More than 30,000 customers lost electricity in and around Memphis. The National Weather Service determined an EF1 tornado came through the area.
About 14 miles southeast of Memphis, fallen trees and power lines blocked roads in Germantown.
The Benton County Department of Public Safety confirmed one death from the storms in northwest Arkansas. A man was killed when a tree fell onto a home east of Rogers, Arkansas, Robert McGowen, the Benton County Public Safety Administrator, told weather.com.
Four people were injured after a tornado touched down about 6 a.m. Monday, October 21, 2019, in Tyronza, Arkansas, according to Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder.
On the eastern side of the state, damage from an apparent tornado was reported in the town of Tyronza, Arkansas. Poinsett County Sheriff Kevin Molder told KAIT a gas station was destroyed and a few houses and buildings were “blown away” Monday morning. He said at least two people with injuries were taken to a hospital.
A tractor-trailer overturned on Interstate 55 near Tyronza during the storm, according to an Arkansas State Police dispatch officer.
One person died in Oklahoma when several large trees fell onto a mobile home near Valliant, trapping the occupants inside. Two people were rescued, but a third died in the home, according to a Facebook post from Valliant Emergency Management. Valliant is about 170 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. Wind damage and hail was also reported in Asher, Oklahoma.
In Louisiana, one person was injured by falling bricks when a possible tornado touched down about noon Monday near Geismer, about 18 miles southeast of Baton Rouge, WAFB reported.
Downed power lines contributed to an attic fire in a home near Bossier City, Louisiana, the NWS said. The occupant of the home was able to escape to safety.
In southern Missouri, a mobile home was blown off its foundation by damaging thunderstorm winds near Willow Springs.
Water runs from a sprinkler system in a damaged Talbot’s store on Oct. 21, 2019, in Dallas, Texas. A tornado struck Sunday night causing major damage to homes, businesses and schools but no deaths or serious injuries have been reported. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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