As many as four tornadoes may have touched down and hail as big as baseballs sent residents scrambling for cover as several storms passed through the North Texas area on Thursday.But by Friday morning, those storms had moved east leaving behind sunshine and cooler temperatures as clean-up efforts got underway. The clear and cooler weather was expected to last throughout the day, giving way to more rain chances Saturday night into Sunday morning, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service. But the threat of severe storms has passed for the time being, said Ted Ryan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office.“The storms started in Denton County and took a line east,” Ryan said. “Denton got hit with some 70-to-80 mph winds. Things could have affected a lot more people if the storms had moved further south into the more populated areas. As it was, it was a pretty normal occurrence for a North Texas spring.”A hailstorm at Texas Woman’s University in Denton damaged windows in Blagg-Huey library, Stark and Guinn halls, and the Lowry Woods apartment community. As many as 200 vehicles parked in TWU parking lots were damaged, said Amanda Simpson, TWU spokeswoman. Two classroom buildings and one office building had some water damage and an assessment team was evaluating other structures this morning, Simpson said.There was also scattered damage on the University of North Texas campus, said Buddy Price, UNT spokesman. UNT staff are also completing damage assessments, Price said. “A section of the West Hall roof peeled off and landed in the parking lot,” Price said. “There were water leaks in six rooms and 14 students had to be relocated.” The storms were treacherous but not severe for those visitors camping out at Texas Motor Speedway, the weather service’s Ryan said. There were reports of nickel-to-dime-sized hail at the motor sports complex, Ryan said.“There was some very small hail here last night but we’ve had no reports of any damage or problems with campers or anyone else,” said Gregg Elkins, Texas Motor Speedway spokesman. “We’re still on schedule for Friday and this weekend.”The weather service deployed personnel on Friday to assess damage and determine the strength of the storms that passed through the region, Ryan said. Reports from those personnel should be compiled by the afternoon, Ryan said.Tornadoes were confirmed in Hunt County and Collin County. Five people were hurt and hundreds of homes and businesses lost power, according to The Associated Press. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said several people were hurt when a suspected tornado destroyed a farmhouse and a mobile home near Merit.The weather service expects clear skies with highs in the high 60s and lows in the mid-40s today, with more clouds rolling in later this evening. Ryan said he expects no rain today but rain chances increase to 20 percent on Saturday and climb to a 50 percent on Sunday.“The severe weather threat right now during the weekend is low to non-existent for North Texas residents,” Ryan said.Rain chances decrease to 20 percent on Monday with a high of 66 degrees. Sunny skies return on Tuesday and no rain is in the forecast.
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3