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Storms spawn funnel clouds, tornadoes in North Texas

Posted Tuesday, May. 24, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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Storm systems spawning tornadoes were reported moving north and east across North Texas this evening, with scattered debris reported in north Tarrant County but no injuries.

"We got multiple tornadoes" reported, said Juan Ortiz, an emergency management coordinator for Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

"We don't know about damage. We're concentrating right now on keeping people safe."

Authorities advised people in the line of the storms in North Texas to remain indoors. Tarrant and Dallas counties were under tornado warnings until 9:30 p.m. and among 15 north central Texas counties under tornado watches until 10 p.m.

A developing tornado was detected southwest of Benbrook at 8:43 p.m. by meteorologists with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. It was moving east at 50 mph.

The storm was one of two possibly tornadic storms in Tarrant County, the weather service said, the other southeast of downtown Fort Worth.

"These are extremely dangerous storms," the weather service said on its website. "If you are in their path, take cover immediately."

Fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington were evacuated to the stadium's service level as sirens sounded and hail fell, but returned to their seats about 15 minutes later after the all-clear was given.

Storm spotters reported a developing tornado east of Euless at 8:25 p.m. The weather service said that storm was capable of producing damaging hail up to baseball-size. It was heading east across northern Tarrant County toward Dallas at 35 mph.

A similar, separate storm system threatened Denton and Collin counties.

Earlier, spotters reported a tornado on the west side of Azle at 7:38 p.m., moving east, the weather service said. There were reports of scattered debris in Azle but no injuries.

Spotters also reported a tornado southeast of Springtown and in Saginaw.

Fort Worth activated outdoor warning sirens in the city beginning at 7:47 p.m., saying: "We have a report of a tornado on the ground, possibly two near Hwy 199. We have some reports of debris in the air and on the ground."

Meteorologists detected a strong storm near Haslet at 6:19 p.m., moving northeast at 35 mph toward Denton.

Heavy rainfall was reported in north Fort Worth about the same time. Softball-sized hail was reported in far north Fort Worth near the Wise County line about an hour-and-a-half later.

"A significant severe weather episode is expected through tonight across North Texas," the weather service said on its website.

"Very large hail and damaging winds" up to 70 mph are the greatest threat, along with the possibility of tornadoes. Lightning and heavy rain are also likely, the forecast says.

Before the storms moved in from the west, the Fort Worth area basked under sunny skies, with the high temperature hitting 90 this afternoon.

Heavy rains pounded the area Monday, causing a handful of high-water rescues and car wrecks.

Monday's downpour, coupled with Sunday's thunderstorms, dropped 1.85 inches of rain at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and caused power outages for about 3,000 North Texas customers.

That was reduced to 1,200 by 3 p.m. and, as of 8 a.m. today, only 55 customers were without power in North Texas, and those were not weather-related, according to Oncor spokeswoman Ashley Burton.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Staff writer Domingo Ramirez contributed to this report.

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