Tornadoes rip through Dallas-Fort Worth area
DALLAS (Reuters) - At least two tornadoes tore through the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area in Texas on Tuesday, ripping apart buildings, tossing tractor trailer trucks into the air and grounding planes in the region.
There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries, according to police, although the storm was still active.
One tornado tossed around trucks like toys in the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air.
"The second trailer is ripped to pieces and thrown 50 to 100 feet into the air," he told Reuters.
National Weather Service meteorologist Amber Elliott confirmed that two separate tornadoes had touched down, one in Arlington, Texas and another in Dallas. Nine separate tornado warnings have been issued by the weather service for the Dallas area so far on Tuesday, she said.
Hail ranging from pea-sized to as large as baseballs pounded Dallas and Fort Worth, the nation's fourth-most-populous metropolitan area with 6.3 million people.
"A house completely demolished. Gas leak in the area," said one comment broadcast on the suburban Arlington, Texas, police scanner, passed along by weather forecaster AccuWeather.
"Motor home blown sideways blocking the street. There is a person stuck inside," another scanner broadcast said.
During the storm all planes were grounded at Dallas-Fort Worth International airport, the eighth busiest in the world, because of reports of storms and tornadoes, American Airlines spokesman Tim Smith said. The airport had reopened by late afternoon.
American canceled all 230 departures from its hub there on Tuesday, and a like number of inbound flights.
Dallas-Fort Worth airport spokesman David Magana said officials ordered passengers away from windows and directed them into stairwells and restrooms.
More than 110 aircraft sustained damage from hail, 400 departures were canceled and 40 incoming flights were diverted, the airport said in a statement.
HOMES DAMAGED, NO ONE HURT
Amethyst Cirmo, a spokeswoman for the city of Kennedale, west of Arlington, Texas said there was at least moderate damage to 40-50 homes there and some businesses were damaged as well. She said a tornado hit the city of 7,000 people, some power lines were down and a water main had broken, but was repaired.
"We have had some pretty severe damage, but we're doing OK," she said.
WFAA television in Dallas aired footage showing residents in one hard-hit neighborhood frantically directing a policeman, who appeared to be searching for people trapped by the storm.
The surrounding streets were littered with fallen trees and other storm-generated debris.
Video of a parking lot of a trucking company showed large trucks piled on top of one another, and some had their roofs ripped off.
Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez told CNN that there had been no serious injuries so far, but officers had not investigated all of the damaged neighborhoods. Officers also had been dispatched to damaged areas to prevent looting, she said.
The U.S. tornado season has started early this year. Tornadoes have been blamed for 57 deaths so far in 2012 in the Midwest and South, raising concerns that this year would be a repeat of 2011, the deadliest year in nearly a century for the unpredictable storms.
In 2011, there were 550 tornado deaths with 316 lives lost on April 27 in five southern states, and a massive tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, Missouri on May 22.
Tuesday's tornadoes in Texas could prove more costly than a hailstorm nearly a year ago in the Dallas area that caused more than $100 million in insured losses. That April 15, 2011, storm was less damaging in terms of hail and winds.
Insurers have already lost as much as $2 billion during the 2012 tornado season, mostly from a record March 2 outbreak. That follows record-breaking losses of $26 billion during the 2011 tornado season.