Storm surveyors find signs of 2 more tornadoes in ETX

NWS cites straight-line winds as cause of damage that claimed a life, impacted a school in Northwest Louisiana
Today, families in East Texas, and across the south, are continuing to clean up messes left...
Today, families in East Texas, and across the south, are continuing to clean up messes left behind from last night's storm. The high winds caused severe damage around Shelby County, especially in the Lakewood Neighborhood.
Published: Jan. 13, 2020 at 12:25 AM CST
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PANOLA, SHELBY COUNTIES, Texas (KSLA) — The National Weather Service has confirmed that two more tornadoes, both EF-1s, hit parts of East Texas early Saturday morning.

On Sunday, storm damage survey teams found evidence that a tornado with winds of up to 110 mph touched down at 12:18 a.m. Saturday on a hillside just southwest of Farm-to-Market Road 959 about five miles east-northeast of Tatum in Panola County.

It was on the ground for a minute or less but, while there, “was nonetheless impressive as a majority of the few hundred pine trees in a confined area had their trunks snapped,” the Weather Service office in Shreveport reports.

The tornado tracked northeast off the hill, doing only sporadic tree damage, then crossed FM 959 and inflicted mainly structural roof damage to several residences and outbuildings.

Radar signatures suggest that the tornado lifted quickly after this point. However, the storm damage surveyors could not access areas to the northeast of there to confirm.

“The tornado was definitely at its strongest at the beginning of the path. But again, extremely limited access did not allow confirmation as to whether the actual start might have been farther to the southwest.”

Then there was a tornado that was on the ground for 10 minutes in Shelby County.

This one touched down at 12:39 a.m. just to the west of Highway 7 about two miles southwest of Center.

The tornado, which had an estimated peak wind of 100 mph, ended its six-mile trail of destruction about four miles east-northeast of Center.

In between, it cut through a few neighborhoods on the south side of Center. “So it was fortunate the tornado`s estimated winds mainly remained less than 100 mph through this portion of the path,” the Weather Service reports.

However, scores of trees were uprooted or had their trunks snapped, resulting in roof and structural damage to many homes.

The worst example of this, storm damage surveyors said, was just off Highway 7 in the Lakewood subdivision, where someone suffered a minor injury when “a fallen, large pine tree heavily compromised the roof structure of a residence.”

Falling trees also caused significant damage to a handful of residences farther east along Ballard Street, the Weather Service says.

Then falling trees damaged residences in the vicinity of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, where the roofs of some homes sustained minor structural damage due to the winds.

"On Loop 500 E on the southeast side of the town, there was additional structural damage due mainly to wind, although a few of the compromised structures were likely vacant and already in a heavy state of disrepair before the tornado."

From there, this tornado caused scattered tree and low-end structural damage in more rural areas on the eastern outskirts of Center.

Then on Shelby County Road 3047, the tornado damaged the roofs of a majority of chicken houses and caused some damage to the structures themselves.

“The damage at this point was likely the most impressive concentrated damage of the tornado,” the Weather Service says. “Interestingly, the tornado lifted shortly after doing this point.”

The storm surveyors found evidence of tree damage typically seen with generally weak and fast-moving tornadoes that accomplish most of damage on their southern flanks.

Straight-line winds in Louisiana

Meantime in Northwest Louisiana, the Weather Service cites straight-line winds of up to 105 mph as the cause of damage that claimed one life.

A damage survey confirmed that winds of up to 80 mph caused minor damage to homes and sporadic tree and branch damage in and around Oil City in northern Caddo Parish.

However, one large tree was uprooted, causing a fatality when it fell on a home in Oil City.

The winds were associated with a thunderstorm and caused damage along a 7.5 mile-path starting at 12:44 a.m. Saturday about three miles west-northwest of Oil City. It ended at 12:52 a.m. about four miles east-southeast of Oil City.

Storm surveyors also found evidence of thunderstorm-related wind damage at Benton in neighboring Bossier Parish, the Weather Service reports.

The most significant damage was found at Benton Middle, where the entire metal roof of one of the school’s classroom wings “was completely removed and peeled back.”

The confined area of straight-line winds of up to 105 mph broke or bent a number of business signs and light poles and caused scattered property and tree damage just south of Benton between 1:07 a.m. and 1:11 a.m.

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