Winds tear part of roof from Stephenville nursing home

A nursing home with two dozen residents in Stephenville has been evacuated after straight-line winds tore off a section of its roof, authorities said.

No one at the Stephenville Nursing Home was injured, and the 24 residents were taken to Golden Age Manor in Dublin, said Marc Pehl, Stephenville Nursing Home administrator.

The winds were part of a line of powerful storms stretching from roughly Decatur to Weatherford to Hamilton that prompted the National Weather Service to issue severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches for North Texas, including DFW. Radar showed the storms moving east at 35 mph.

"Straight line winds hit from the west and flipped over about a 50-foot section of tin over to the east side of the road," Pehl said of the winds that blew through Stephenville. "We lost some tin and some decking, but that was it."

Pehl said that workers have covered the roof with a tarp and removed some of the tin in preparation for any other inclement weather that might come through later Thursday. The Stephenville Nursing home is empty, he said.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Dunn in Fort Worth told The Associated Press that winds were estimated between 60 and 70 miles per hour.

The fast-moving storm blew off a carport roof, damaged a traffic light and took down some trees and power lines in Stephenville, about 80 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Stephenville police say there was some flooding on the Tarleton State University campus, and the National Weather Service reports part of the school physical plant's roof was blown off. Stephenville is the county seat of Erath.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for North Texas and a flash flood watch is in effect until 6 a.m. Friday, the weather service said.

The main threat, the weather service said, will be strong winds and very heavy rainfall.

"Many areas will see over an inch or two of rain as widespread bands of showers, with a few embedded thunderstorms, continue to affect the area," the weather service reported.

Thunder rattled and steady showers fell late in the afternoon from dark clouds hovering over downtown Fort Worth.

About 6 p.m., weather service radar showed a line of severe storms extending from just north of Dallas to below Waco to the south.

"Showers and thunderstorms will continue to expand across North Texas during the afternoon hours," the weather service reported. "This may cause some localized flash flooding or river flooding."

The weather service also noted that as much as 3 inches could fall south of Interstate 20 and along and west of Interstate 35W.

Meanwhile, a powerful cold front was hovering over the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma, churning out some snow and a lot of ice.

Heavy snow and freezing rain over parts of West Texas downed tree limbs and power lines as driving turned treacherous in the Panhandle and south Plains, AP reported.

Classes were canceled at midday Thursday at Texas Tech University in Lubbock due to the winter weather. National Weather Service meteorologist Justin Weaver told AP the storm could generate up to 8 inches of snow in counties northwest of Lubbock.

The Texas Department of Transportation closed Interstate 40 Thursday night from the Texas-Oklahoma border to the New Mexico state line because of packed snow and ice from the storm.

The department also closed U.S. 87 and U.S. 287 from Amarillo north and U.S. 54 from the Texas-Oklahoma border to the New Mexico line a!fter about 13 inches of snow accumulated in the northern Panhandle by nightfall.

Many flights in and out of Lubbock and Amarillo airports were canceled. American Eagle on Thursday afternoon canceled all flights at Wichita Falls Municipal Airport.

Weather service forecasters have warned for the past few days that the wintry blast could extend into the northeast portions of North Texas. And there is a strong possibility it will pick up significantly before daybreak Friday.

"It's not moving very fast, but sitting pretty stationary to our north around the Red River," said meteorologist Jessica Schultz. "It will gradually push into our area overnight."

Schultz said there are deep concerns for icing on highways and roadways in Oklahoma, but snow is not likely in North Texas.

The forecast says the overnight temperature in North Texas will be 33 degrees -- just a notch above freezing, with a steady rain.

But, Schultz said, elevated surfaces like bridges and overpasses tend to be colder because air passes beneath them. Therefore, they could be slick during the Friday morning commute.

There is still a chance for rain and freezing drizzle before noon, and the temperatures won't get out of the high 30s, the weather service said.

The rain showers are the result of an upper-level low pressure trough that was pushing into the area from West Texas and mingling with moist air from the Gulf of Mexico.

The rest of the weekend ought to be dry, but cold, the weather service said.

It will get down to the mid-20s Saturday morning and then warm up to 42 degrees in the afternoon under mostly sunny skies, the weather service said.

Sunday will be sunny with a high around 47 degrees after another night in the mid-20s, according to the forecast.

There is a 20 percent chance for showers Monday, but the warming trend will continue with a high near 52 degrees.

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