Local law enforcement dispatchers received numerous calls of funnel cloud sightings at about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
The National Weather Service of Fort Worth could not confirm any reports of a tornado touchdown, but a representative did confirm tornadic activity in the storm system and a tornado warning was issued until 3:45 p.m. This is the third time parts of Ellis County have faced tornado-warned storms within the past four weeks. On May 10, rotation, straight-line winds and flash flooding, caused damage to several homes in southern Ellis County.
"We had a thunderstorm that developed southwest of Waxahachie and basically we had moderately strong updrafts from the surface level up to cloud level and the shear was strong enough to create rotation," said meteorologist Jesse Moore with the National Weather Service of Fort Worth. "As (the storm) moved from the southwest toward the northeast, the rotation strengthened, which is why we issued the tornado warning."
The rotation created funnel clouds that moved northeast from southern Waxahachie toward Palmer and Ferris. Funnel clouds were reported near Palmer and Reagor Springs.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a rotating column of air can form a funnel cloud, but is not classified as a tornado until it touches the ground.
As the storm passed over, Waxahachie and Red Oak Independent School Districts delayed bus transportation for students until the storm passed for safety precautions. Yet, at least one WISD bus was on the road. The WISD bus driver for bus 59 evacuated the vehicle, and helped students remain calm and take cover under a tree.
“Special thank you to the bus driver on bus 59 of Waxahachie ISD’s Cliff Elementary and Waxahachie PD,” stated Mandy Castellano Rangel on the Waxahachie Daily Light Facebook page. “Both of my babies were on the bus while the tornado was near, I was so worried that I did not know where they were at. The bus driver got the children off the bus and took cover around a tree while they waited for the police to arrive. She comforted them and helped them to keep calm. Thank y’all for taking care of my babies while there was nothing that I could do to protect them.”
Stephanie Parker, Ellis County Emergency Management coordinator, confirmed reports of funnel cloud sightings, and the storm caused roof damage to a home on Omaha Court and shifted a barn's walls on Pigg Road.
No injuries were reported because of the funnel clouds. A 40-50 percent chance for thunderstorms exists through Sunday night, according to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
For immediate weather updates or local storm coverage about Ellis County, visit www.waxahachietx.com and www.facebook.com/waxahachiedailylight.