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2 tornadoes confirmed in overnight storms in North Texas

The National Weather Service is confirming what some North Texans feared. Storms that moved through the region Monday night and damaged or destroyed more than 50 homes included two probable tornadoes, although aerial surveys showed much of the damage was from straight-line winds.

While some residents of Grayson County -- the hardest hit area -- worked to clean up the damage, others in North Texas found themselves without power as wind-whipped flurries of sleet and snow moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth area late today.

Lt. Mike Eppler, a spokesman for the Denison Police Department, said the storm that moved through the city Monday night uprooted trees, blew out car windows and destroyed a shuttered bowling alley. It also knocked over tractor trailers at Champion Cooler Corp., an Arkansas-based business that manufactures evaporative coolers for homes and businesses.

At least 4,000 customers lost power when the storms moved through Grayson County.

Survey teams from the National Weather Service offices in Fort Worth believe two probable tornadoes may have torn through the area near Southmayd and Denison.

Damage found in Denison may have been caused by an EF1 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, meaning winds of 86 mph to 110 mph were possible, meteorologist Jessica Schultz said.

Another EF1 tornado appeared to strike in Southmayd, about 13 miles southwest of Denison, she said. It stayed on the ground for 2½ miles, tore a path 200 yards wide and may have had winds between 86 mph and 95 mph, she said.

Downbursts may have caused straight line wind damage in other parts of the county, she said.

One person in the Collinsville area in the far west part of the county suffered minor injuries in the violent weather late Monday, authorities said. One Red Cross team member reported from Collinsville that roofing materials were stripped from homes and some trees were damaged.

Survey teams reported seeing large trees snapped at their trunks and roofs torn completely or partially off of homes, Schultz said.

Oncor spokeswoman Catherine Cuellar said electricity had been restored to all but about 50 customers by Tuesday evening, but crews were working to restore power to nearly 1,800 Dallas-Fort Worth area customers after high winds moved through during the day.

The smattering of sleet and snow wasn't limited to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Snow fell in the mountains around El Paso and a trace amount of snow fell in the city.

Temperatures fell throughout the day as the storm system moved through the state.

Highs behind the front struggled to get into the 40s and 50s while temperatures ahead of the front were in the 70s and 80s. Gusty winds made the temperatures feel like readings in the teens and 20s.

The National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of snow between 9 p.m. and midnight. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph overnight, according to the forecast.

"Because temperatures are expected to drop low tonight, the Red Cross will ensure that each family has a safe, warm place to spend the night," said Anita Foster, spokeswoman for the agency.

Red Cross workers were delivering meals, bottled water, coffee and snacks throughout communities hit by Monday's storms. They also handed out cleanup kits with supplies needed to clear debris.

"Services will continue throughout the day and into tomorrow, until every family is squared away," Foster told the Star-Telegram.

Wednesday's high will be a cool, but sunny, 49 degrees with wind gust as high as 25 mph, according to the weather service.

Severe weather had been forecast for Monday evening in North Texas, but Grayson County didn't get hit until about 10:30 p.m., said Nick Hampshire, a weather service meteorologist.

"It was a cell -- not really part of a line -- that moved from southwest to northeast over Grayson County," Hampshire said.

"It wasn't a well-defined hook echo on radar."

If there was a tornado, he explained, it may have been shrouded by night or it was "rain-wrapped" -- meaning the funnel cloud was covered by a rain field.

"That's the most dangerous because the rain is blocking the view," he said. "But in this case, it was at night."