Power outages reach 9,000 in North Texas

Repair crews were working Thursday to restore electricity to an estimated 9,000 customers after early-morning storms swept North Texas with lightning, high winds and heavy rain.

As of 3:30 p.m., power had been restored to more than half, said Megan Wright, spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery, with 4,400 customers still without electricity.

About 6,500 outages were reported around 8 a.m., but that number grew, as expected, when more people awoke and realized they had no power, Wright said.

The storms Thursday followed a similar system that swept North Texas Wednesday night.

Both storm systems shed lightning that caused at least two house fires -- one Wednesday night in Southlake and another Thursday morning in Euless.

Fire Department officials in Fort Worth could not confirm a similar blaze in their city.

The Southlake lightning fire was reported at 6:29 p.m. Wednesday in the 1000 block of Aspen Ridge Drive, officials said.

A lightning bolt struck a chimney at the home of Carroll school trustee Read Ballew, said David Barnes, Southlake's fire marshal. The neighborhood is north of the intersection of Texas 114 and North Carroll Avenue.

The family members smelled smoke, but they could see no flames, Barnes said.

They summoned firefighters who found the fire in a "closed space," which had to be accessed by tearing open a wall in an upstairs bedroom, Barnes said.

The flames were contained and no one was hurt, he said, but the home sustained heavy smoke damage.

The Euless blaze was reported at 5:07 a.m. Thursday in the 200 block of Moonlight Drive, said Vernon Gilmore, fire investigator.

Lightning caused a small fire in an attic, and some roof damage, but the flames were quickly doused and no one was hurt, Gilmore said.

Also, high winds Wednesday night damaged property in Ellis County, including several sheds, according to broadcast news reports.

The light show Thursday started about 4 a.m. as a weak disturbance initiated storms in Oklahoma and pushed them southeast into North Texas, said Matt Mosier, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.

The weather service contracts with a national lightning detection service which recorded an estimated 4,000 strikes early Thursday in North Texas, Mosier said.

But, he said, that's by no means a record.

"That is not an excessive amount of lightning," Mosier said. "There will be storms that can produce 100 lightning strikes in five to 10 minutes."

He also recalled some "highly electrified storms" in recent years that fired 100 strikes per minute,

Rain totals from 7 a.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday included 3.95 at Keller, 2.64 at Lake Worth, and 1.85 at D/FW Airport.

The highest reading was 5.8 inches at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Grassland in Wise and Montague counties, Mosier said.

Showers are expected to decrease across the region during the day Thursday, but a 20 percent chance for precipitation remained in the forecast.

Rain chances are expected to kick up to 40 percent early this evening and 60 percent around midnight as a cold front pushes into North Texas. It was over the Panhandle at 8 a.m. Thursday, Mosier said.

"There might be some isolated activity ahead of the front," Mosier said, "but I think the bulk of the activity will be along the front."

Rain moves out of the forecast Friday with a gradual clearing of cloudy skies. Temperatures will be in the low 90s Thursday and the high 80s Friday, according to the forecast.

The weekend looks great for football, with sunny skies and temperatures ranging from the high 80s Saturday to the mid 90s Sunday and Labor Day on Monday.

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