National Weather Service: Nine tornadoes swept through East Texas Saturday afternoon

Published on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 13:35 - Written by

AUGUSTA ROBINSON AND EMILY GUEVARA,  news@tylerpaper.com

 

The tornadoes that ravaged East Texas on Saturday - a total of nine separate twisters - ranged in size from EF-0 to EF-4, according to preliminary data from the National Weather Service.

The storm system tore through Henderson, Hopkins, Rains, Van Zandt, Smith and Wood counties, flattening homes, uprooting trees and flipping cars, killing four people in the process.

Van Zandt County officials on Monday confirmed the identities of the four victims. They are: Russell “Rusty” Barlow, 51, of Corsicana; Kenneth Hughes, 57, of Canton; Lucretia Evette Sykes, 49, of Fort Worth; and James Clayton Young, 39, of Alba.

Barlow was found in a building and Hughes in a residence. Young was found in his vehicle on Texas Highway 64, east of Farm-to-Market Road 243. Ms. Sykes was found north of Interstate 20, east of Farm-to-Market Road 17 near her vehicle.

Van Zandt County Judge Don Kirkpatrick said well more than 100 people have been involved in the search process, which covered a huge area.

“One thing we learned through the Van tornado (in 2015) when something like this happens, it’s bigger than what you are,” Kirkpatrick said. “… Everyone has to come together, and the state has done a great job assisting.”

Texas Task Force 1 and 2, which function as statewide urban search and rescue teams, were in the area working, Kirkpatrick said.

He said the search and rescue job is a massive one and unfortunately the tornadoes struck near nightfall, which made it difficult to maneuver the roads and search for people.

He said with the state’s assistance and their dogs, the search teams were able to go door to door.

“Everyone has been accounted for,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have no missing persons at this time.”

 

The nature of the storms

A National Weather Service survey after the storm showed the strongest tornado damage came from an EF4 tornado that started in Eustace before traveling into Canton. This storm damaged several homes with the exterior walls collapsing in estimated 175-185 mph winds.

Several cars and many manufactured homes were damaged in the central part of the tornado’s path.

The length of the tornado’s path stretched more than 23 miles and its width 800 yards, according to the data. The estimated start time was 5:29 p.m. with an end time of 6:09 p.m.

An EF3 tornado, known as the mile-wide tornado, had a width of 1,760 yards, according to the weather service. Its estimated start time was 5:41 p.m. with an end time of 7:28 p.m. It had estimated peak winds of 140 mph and traveled an estimated length of more than 55 miles through Henderson and Hopkins counties.

Two EF0 tornadoes lasted less than 5 minutes and caused damage to trees and barns in Van Zandt County. The weather service also confirmed an EF0 tornado in Hopkins County near Cumby.

The weather service confirmed a tornado that was at least an EF1 occurred north of Lindale, and a tornado that was at least an EF1 occurred in Mineola on Saturday. The Mineola tornado lasted one minute - from 7:48 to 7:49 p.m. - and several trees were uprooted and snapped along its path.

The tornado near Lindale lasted three minutes - from 7:45 to 7:48 p.m. - and also scattered and uprooted trees. It caused extensive damage to a barn in the area after its roof was lifted and dropped back down on its structure, according to the weather service.

Patricia Sanchez, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, said the storms were able to develop because there was very little cap in the area.

“The cap is like an umbrella. Think about it as a cap in the atmosphere that doesn’t let storms develop,” Ms. Sanchez said. “Initially the DFW area was under a cap so there was no way the storms were able to develop, but for the eastern part of our area there was not much cap.

“It was kind of like the area, environmentally speaking, was conducive to have that weather,” she said.

 

KYTX CBS 19 contributed to this report.

TWITTER: @Tylerpaper

 

KYTX CBS 19 contributed to this report. 

TWITTER: @Tylerpaper