The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has updated the number of tornadoes that hit Ellis County on Saturday to three.
As of Wednesday afternoon, new information researched by damage surveyors has placed a tornado in southwestern Ellis County near Maypearl. This makes be the fourth EF-0 tornado in Ellis County this year, and the fifth overall, making this the second busiest years for tornadoes in the county since accurate record keeping began with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1950. The first is 1978 with six, according to the NOAA website.
According to the NWS, the tornado was an EF-0 which is capable of producing 70-80 mph wins. The tornado’s path was estimated to be half a mile long with a width of about 50 yards. A law enforcement officer and a storm spotter confirmed the report of the new tornado while the storm took place.
“As we continue to get in more information, they are able to see different areas that have actually received damage. Unfortunately, we don’t receive those reports in real time or in the next couple of days afterward. Sometimes, it takes a while for that information to reach us,” said meteorologist Matt Stalley, with the weather service. “As we get those reports we are able to head out there and take a look at some of the damage for ourselves.”
The other two tornados touched down in Ennis and in part of the cities of Glenn Heights, Ovilla, Midlothian, Red Oak and Waxahachie. The tornado in Ennis was rated as an EF-0 with winds estimated at 80 mph. The path of the tornado is estimated to be a mile long and 150 yards wide. It was spotted at 7 p.m. and ended at 7:02 p.m. on Saturday.
The EF-3 tornado that struck parts the northwestern part of the county damaged or destroyed 171 homes and caused about $20.4 million in damages, with winds ranging from 145 to 155 mph. The path of the tornado was an estimated 8.5 half miles and the width was estimated at 125 yards. It was spotted at 6:01 p.m. and ended at 6:13 p.m.
According to the NWS of Fort Worth website, this tornado produced a long and narrow damage path just northeast of Mid-Way Regional Airport near Midlothian to the boarder of DeSoto and Glenn Heights.
For those in a rural areas where outdoor warning systems are not stationed and alerts can’t be received through a cell phone, the best course of action would be to purchase a NOAA weather radio, Stalley advised. The weather radio receives broadcasts of information directly from the nearest National Weather Service office. Broadcasts include official National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazards. Weather radios can be purchased at any major electronic retailer, Stalley said.
According to the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center website, some of the signs of a tornado include:
•Strong, persistent rotation in the cloud base.
•Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base -- tornadoes sometimes have no funnel!
•Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can’t be seen.
•Day or night - Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn’t fade in a few seconds like thunder.
•Night - Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
•Night – Persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning -- especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.
Residents looking to get information about tornadoes through their smartphone can find help from the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross has an app called Tornado, which is free to download. It is available for both the iPhone and Android smartphones.
Follow Andrew on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AndrewBrancaWDL or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AndrewBrancaWNI. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 469-517-1451.