Update: More storms and severe weather are moving in to the area on Saturday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
Meteorologist Lamont Bain said the showers and storms are primarily in Wise and Denton counties and can dump “quite a bit of rainfall” along with frequent lightning. Rain will be off and on throughout the morning and early afternoon in Tarrant and nearby counties, with more severe weather expected later Saturday afternoon and evening.
Bain said the second round of showers later Saturday may bring hail and flooding, and the weather service “can’t rule out a tornado,” though that seems unlikely in this area, as of Saturday morning.
There’s a good chance for storms Sunday in North Texas, too, Bain said.
Original story: Dee and Jim Brown dodged a bullet on Thursday, and North Texas was hoping to do the same through the weekend.
The Browns, owners of Jim-a-Dee Ranch west of Sanger, lost a 2,000-square-foot carriage house when a tornado ripped through Denton and Cooke counties late Thursday. Pieces of the metal structure were strewn about the 30-acre spread Friday morning.
The Browns collect antique horse carriages, and about 20 of the carriages — some worth thousands of dollars — were damaged when the roof and walls were ripped from the carriage house.
Despite the damage, the Browns say they feel blessed.
“We weren’t hurt. The horses weren’t hurt,” Dee Brown said Friday as she offered a golf cart tour of the property, where about 20 horses are also boarded. “We lost the carriage house, and our house needs a roof, but we can still live in it.”
The tornado that hit the Browns’ place was one of two EF-1s that were produced by the powerful thunderstorms that moved across North Texas on Thursday. Heavy rain, high winds and lightning accompanied the storm, which destroyed homes in Wise County, ignited a gas well in Denton County and killed a man when his car was swept away in floodwaters, which also caused a train to derail in Cooke County.
Dee Brown was in her kitchen about 7:30 p.m. Thursday when a slab of tin slammed into a kitchen window.
“Jim hollered at me, ‘Get away from the window!’ So I quickly got my birds and got out of there,” she said. “He brings a blanket out so we can cover our heads, and the next thing I know every piece of tin on the west side of my roof is gone.”
More storms were developing northwest of the Metroplex Friday night, and severe weather is also in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
As residents continue to clean up in areas that have already been pounded by strong winds and heavy rains, they need to stay attuned to the forecast, said Eric Martello, Fort Worth meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“We could still get some more severe storms on Saturday and Sunday,” Martello said. “It looks like we’ll be getting some heavy rains on Sunday so flash flooding may become a problem. We could have some flash flooding on Friday night as well.”
The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for Tarrant County and areas north and west until 3 a.m. Saturday. The watch includes Parker, Wise, Cooke and Denton counties, which were all pounded by Thursday’s storms.
At 9 p.m., thunderstorms were drenching areas to the north and west of Fort Worth, making flash flooding a definite concern, according to local forecasters.
“If storms develop over those areas, flooding is going to be an issue again,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Matt Stalley. “Those areas certainly haven’t had time to recover.”
The weather service survey teams confirmed two EF-1 tornadoes on Thursday — the one west of Sanger and one north of New Fairview in Wise County.
“There was a thunderstorm complex that produced tornadoes from Boyd up through northwestern Denton County,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Jesse Moore. “I’m not ready to say how many times that tornado went up and down.”
Moore said there were also unconfirmed reports of a tornado north of Gainesville and another unconfirmed report in northern Jack County.
This round of twisters follows the April 26 outbreak of 15 tornadoes, including three that pounded the Rio Vista area in Johnson County.
While the tornadoes were stunning to watch, flash floods caused more widespread problems. Much of the flooding had receded early Friday, but there were still some problems in Cooke and Fannin counties.
The highest rainfall total reported was 5.14 inches of rain, about a mile north of Gainesville. The official amount for the Metroplex, recorded at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was 1.35 inches.
North of Denton and into southern Cooke County, four locomotives and 13 freight cars derailed after floodwaters spilled over Spring Creek, which feeds into Lake Ray Roberts, said Joseph Faust, spokesman for the Fort Worth-based BNSF.
“It was most likely due to high water,” Faust said of the derailment, which occurred about 1:20 a.m. Friday.
The train, which included 69 cars, was carrying “mixed freight, consumer products,” but no hazardous material, Faust said.
Four BNSF Railway workers were treated for minor injuries at Denton Regional Medical Center and released.
Will Onstott was sound asleep when the train derailed just 150 yards behind his tiny, beige-brick home in rural Valley View.
A BNSF worker knocked on his door about 5 a.m. and notified him that some of the rail cars had fallen into his property, and asked permission to access the derailment site from Onstott’s 18 acres of land.
He said even nine hours after the derailment, the mud was “up to my calves” on his property where the derailment took place, and the air was thick with the smell of diesel fumes from the tipped-over locomotives.
A BNSF worker explained to Onstott that the railway would conduct an environmental cleanup of the fuel.
“The workers are going to have a pretty hard time clearing that out and getting the locomotives back on the tracks,” he said.
Onstott said the racing storm waters caused the most damage in Valley View, where fields of wheat and hay were still submerged in about six inches of standing water and bubbly mud on Friday.
Onstott, a 36-year-old manager at the Peterbilt truck plant in Denton, said it’s probably the worst flooding to hit his hometown since 1981, when the water rose so high an elephant at the Gainesville zoo was found taking refuge 20 feet up a tree, it’s trunk pointing skyward for air.
Man swept away in flood, dies
The same floodwaters that caused the train cars to derail apparently swept a car off the road, killing a Gainesville man.
The body of Brandon Henegar, 36, was found inside his car in Spring Creek, said Cooke County Judge Jason Brinkley in a news release.
“It was a terribly black night, a very dark rural road and he just did not see the water,” said Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace Carroll Johnson. “The car just got caught in the water … and it would have been easy for the car to have slipped off the road.”
Johnson said the man had left his home in Gainesville to go to work.
“People need to be cautious,” Johnson said. “If there’s water covering the road do not cross the road. Unpaved county roads are the most dangerous.”
Homes destroyed in Wise County
The EF-1 tornado in New Fairview destroyed at least three homes, with another dozen sustaining moderate to severe damage, said Wise County Judge J.D. Clark.
A 14-year-old was treated for minor injuries when she was hit with flying debris.
“We’ve got flooding all over the place,” Clark said. “Every creek and river that can be flooded seems to be flooded. We’ve got enormous washouts in the northern and western parts of the counties and road closures all over the place. I’m sure we’re going to be dealing with road repairs on a lot of our county roads.”
Like most of North Texas, Wise County has been dealing with drought over the last four years but Clark said those dry condtions are long gone. All they need now is for Lake Bridgeport to start filling.
Lake Bridgeport had climbed 2.35 feet and was expected to climb another 2 feet from last night’s runoff. Eagle Mountain Lake had climbed about a half foot.
“When nature decides to make a shift, it can come furiously,” Clark said.
Gas well fire
A lightning strike was the likely cause of a gas well fire in north Denton Thursday night.
A battery tank and gas well head caught fire. It was put out by Denton firefighters by 2:30 a.m., according to a news release from Vantage Engery, which operates the well.
No injuries were reported at the well site off Interstate 35 and West Windsor Drive.
Friday morning, Vantage reported that it was “discovered that some fluids did leave the containment area. We will be working immediately with local and state agencies to begin cleanup operations,” according to the news release.
Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698
Gordon Dickson, 817-390-7796
Saturday: 60 percent chance of severe thunderstorms.
Sunday: 80 percent chance of severe thunderstorms.