High winds knock out power across Dallas-Fort Worth

Posted Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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High winds brought cold temperatures and numerous power outages to the Dallas-Fort Worth area Thursday.

About 9,500 customers in the area -- mostly Tarrant and Dallas counties, but including Plano and McKinnney -- remained without power at 3 p.m. Thursday, down from a 4 a.m. peak of 38,000, said Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina.

All outages were due to storms that raked the Metroplex Wednesday night and persistent high winds Thursday, Molina said.

"There have been continuous outages during the day," she said. "The wind has been holding steady at around 40 miles per hour, and that's knocking down trees, which are taking down power lines."

Most of the outages were on the eastern side (east of Texas 360) of the Metroplex, Molina said. "We're seeing a lot of downed power lines and trees coming into contact with power lines because of the winds."

Fort Worth fire and police units responded a little before 10 a.m. Thursday to a downed power line in the 3200 block of Ryan Avenue.

More power lines were reported down at 10:30 a.m. in the 3700 block of Hawlet Street, at 12:36 p.m. in the 2700 block of Mission Street, and at 2:20 p.m. in the 300 block of Westview Avenue.

Residents are urged to stay away from downed power lines and call 911 to report them. But report outages to Oncor at 888-313-4747 or through the storm center on oncor.com, Molina said.

Outages at Grapevine High School and Cross Timbers Middle School almost affected final exams and early releases, according to district officials.

At 8 a.m., the district decided not to postpone exams at Cross Timbers Middle School, but prepared to adjust Grapevine High School's exam schedules.

Power was restored to both schools shortly before 9 a.m.

The line of wind storms that moved into the Metroplex Wednesday evening gave the area a good dusting of West Texas dirt. Dust was carried by winds that gusted to as high as 66 mph at Dallas Love Field, said Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

Fort Worth police reported no weather-related wrecks or traffic issues overnight, said Sgt. Pedro Criado.

As the storms moved east they dropped one-inch hail on Kaufman, southeast of Dallas, and pummeled the city with 65- to 70-mph winds, Moore said. Rice also had 60-mph winds, and Sulphur Springs recorded 62-mph winds, but damage in East Texas was limited.

"I've not seen any damage reports, other than trees down north of Palestine in Anderson County and around Neches and Elkhart," Moore said. "In Edgewood, in northern Van Zandt County, three homes were damaged, as were two barns and two businesses -- a gas station and a tire store."

Radar signatures Wednesday night showed 70-mph winds moving across that area, Moore said.

"Behind all of that wind there was a lot of dust from West Texas, dropping visibility to 1.5 miles," he said. "There's a wind advisory for today with 20- to 30-mph winds gusting to 40."

Thursday night's skies will be mostly clear and temperatures will be in the low 20s Friday morning, said Eric Martello, senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"Wind chills at midnight could be from the lower to upper 20s," he said. "Early Friday morning wind speeds will drop to about 5 mph, creating mid- to upper-teens wind chills."

Going into the weekend the area will stay dry, but Moore expected "a little warming trend."

Clouds will increase Saturday night, but won't bring rain until next week, Moore said. He gave a 20 to 30 percent chance of rain Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but zero chance of snow.

"It looks like the main track of a storm system next week will slide off to our north," he said. "If the pattern changes, there could be cold rain Christmas Eve and Christmas."

But the air will dry out late Christmas Day and Wednesday, Moore said.

Star-Telegram writer Shirley Jinkins contributed to this report.

Terry Evans, (817) 390-7620

Twitter: @fwstevans

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