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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

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Tornadoes Damage Hundreds of Homes

Tornado season is off to a strong start in Texas, where a series of twisters ravaged the Dallas area.

14,000 homes and businesses are still without power. (Photo courtesy of Twitter user Mindy Mizell.)
14,000 homes and businesses are still without power. (Photo courtesy of Twitter user Mindy Mizell.)

Dallas is now assessing just how much damage was caused by a series of tornadoes that ripped through on Tuesday.

Texas is starting to pick up the pieces.  On Wednesday, experts began sifting through the debris to determine how many tornadoes struck the area.

The National Weather Service predicted there may have been as many as twelve with wind gusts up to 135 miles an hour.

The Red Cross estimated that 650 homes were damaged, and Utility Oncor reported that 14,000 homes and businesses are still without power.

No fatalities have been reported thus far.

In Lancaster, one of the hardest hit areas, the tornadoes were seen bouncing between homes, destroying them randomly.  About 150 residents stayed in a shelter Tuesday night, and according to Lancaster Police Officer Paul Beck.  Ten people sustained injuries and two of them were serious.

“I guess ‘shock’ is probably a good word,” said Lancaster Mayor Marcus Knight.

“It sounded like a bomb hit,” said physical therapist Patti Gilroy, who was working with patients at the Green Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Arlington when the tornados touched down. 

Gilroy saw a tornado barreling through the facility’s back door and helped patients into the hallway.  "We hit the floor, and everybody was praying.”

An entire wing of the facility crumbled, however only two residents sustained minor injuries.

Only a handful of people were injured in the Dallas area overall. 

April is usually the busiest month in tornado season, which lasts from March to June. However the sudden severity of Tuesday’s storms indicates that this year’s season is gearing up to be “above normal,” according to meteorologist Matt Bishop.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore said that based off of the damage sustained in Arlington, the tornadoes were determined to be EF2.  On the Enhanced Fujita scale, which ranges from 0 (mild) to 5 (devastating), an EF2 twister is classified as having wind gusts of 111 to 135 miles an hour.

The storms, which were a result of a slow-moving storm system over northern New Mexico, have resulted in hundreds of flights arriving and departing at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport being cancelled. Airport officials announced that 500 flights are still grounded.

Flight cancellations and delays were felt all the way to Los Angeles International Airport Tuesday.  American Airlines and United Express cancelled all of their flights Tuesday from DFW to LAX.  

On Wednesday, American Airlines cancelled more than 450 flights. Southwest Airlines, Delta Airlines and Delta Airlines are operating normally.

For the latest on flights impacted by the storms and to track your flights, click here.

To watch a video of a tornado touch-down from the dugout of the Texas Rangers Ballpark, click here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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