Dallas area surveys damage after tornadoes rip through

LANCASTER, Texas (CNN) — Rescuers plan to search the Dallas area again Wednesday for anyone trapped after violent tornadoes flattened homes, sucked up tractor-trailers and sent debris swirling in the air.

Between six and 13 tornadoes may have touched down in north Texas on Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Dallas-Fort Worth said. The number is an estimate pending a survey and damage assessment.

There are no reports of deaths so far, according to the mayors of Dallas and Arlington.

Three people were taken to a hospital in Arlington and at least 150 homes were destroyed, said Mayor Robert Cluck.

“We’ve dodged a bullet,” he said. “We’ve done the primary search. We feel as though we have everybody now, but they won’t give up until they have done all the other searches.”

Residents described scenes of horror and devastation.

“It was like ‘The Wizard of Oz,'” said Gwen Dabbs, who was not able to make it to an interior room before the storm blew her windows out. She huddled in a corner of her living room covered with blankets as the tornado passed.

“My body is sore from being in the corner. But I don’t have not a cut, not a scratch, and I’m so thankful. Thank you, Lord,” she said.

Before the flurry of twisters touched down, massive hail pounded the area.

“Once the hail stopped, our electricity went out. I thought, ‘That’s it, we need to get into the bathtub,'” said Nicole Lawrence. “It”s only by God’s grace that I’m here.”

Lawrence said her home was reduced to rubble. She took shelter in the bathroom with her two sons, who covered their mother with their bodies to avoid debris. By the time the tornado swept through, all that was left of her house was her son’s tuxedo hanging in what used to be the closet.

He was planning to wear it to the prom.

During the storm, more than 110 planes at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport got damaged by hail, the airport said.

It reported airlines canceled 400 departures, and more than three dozen incoming flights were diverted to other airports because of the storm.

American and its American Eagle partner airline canceled 234 outbound flights on Tuesday. Southwest Airlines canceled more than 40 flights at Dallas Love Field, while American Airlines canceled all flights

Eric Gould was aboard his flight and ready for takeoff when the pilot announced a delay. Suddenly, the skies opened up, unleashing rain and hail as big as golf balls.

“The noise of ice cubes hitting the aluminum exterior of a 757 was as deafening as it was frightening,” he said. “Imagine the sound of dropping a bucket of ice cubes onto a metal roof shed for about 10 minutes straight.”

In Lancaster, Texas, south of Dallas, roofs were stripped to bare plywood. About 300 buildings were damaged, according to the city’s mayor. A citywide curfew was in place.

CNN affiliate WFAA broadcast video showing tractor-trailers lifted and flipped like matchsticks. Ominous clouds filled the skies, making it as dark as night.

In one picture at a freight truck depot on the south side of Dallas, one twister flung semitrailers high in the air and hundreds of feet from their parking spots.

A tractor weighs 20,000 pounds. An empty trailer weighs 14,000 pounds, while a full one weighs about 46,000, the company said.

Lot owner Wisconsin-based Schneider National Trucking Co. said there were no injuries at the facility, but there was significant damage to the building and equipment.

CNN meteorologist Sean Morris estimated the tornadoes were EF1 or EF2 twisters, at their strongest.

“This is fairly weak in terms of tornadoes, but we saw the awesome power of the twisters as they lifted the trailers several hundred feet in the air,” he said.

Damage could have been much worse, said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

“The big headline is that we dodged a big bullet,” he said. “We’re saddened by the damage the system did, but we’ve got nobody that’s dead and no significant injures. It really is a miracle.”

CNN’s Henry Hanks, Ed Lavandera, Matt Smith, Dana Ford, Chad Myers, Joe Sutton and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

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LANCASTER, Texas (CNN) — Cleanup efforts began in Texas on Tuesday after tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area, tossing tractor-trailers like toys, forcing airlines to cancel flights and causing widespread damage.

In Lancaster, Texas, south of Dallas, roofs were stripped to bare plywood and houses were speared by flying two-by-fours. About 300 buildings suffered damage, according to the city’s mayor. A city-wide curfew was put in place and a shelter was opened.

“It was like ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ ” said Gwen Dabbs, who wasn’t able to make it to an interior room before the storm blew her windows out. She huddled in a corner of her living room covered with blankets as the tornado passed.

“My body is sore from being in the corner. But I don’t have not a cut, not a scratch, and I’m so thankful. Thank you, Lord,” she said.

CNN affiliate WFAA broadcast striking video of area damage, showing tractor-trailers being lifted and flipped like matchsticks. Ominous clouds filled the skies, making it as dark as night.

“The pictures that you’re seeing and that I’m seeing are just horrific. We’ve got reports of a number of injuries, but no reports of fatalities at the present time,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

One tornado was spotted on the ground just five miles east of downtown Dallas, the National Weather Service said. In all, there were about a dozen reports of tornadoes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but some may have been of the same twister.

Likely just two or three tornadoes ripped through the region Tuesday, said CNN meteorologist Sean Morris.

“I’d estimate the tornadoes that moved through the DFW area this afternoon to be EF1 — or EF2 at their strongest. This is fairly weak in terms of tornadoes, but we saw the awesome power of the twisters as they lifted the trailers several hundred feet in the air,” he said.

The severe weather affected flights and aircraft at area airports.

More than 110 aircraft at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport sustained various degrees of hail damage, the airport said. It reported airlines canceled 400 departures, and more than three dozen incoming flights were diverted to other airports because of the storm.

Southwest Airlines, meanwhile, canceled more than 40 flights at Dallas Love Field, while American Airlines canceled all flights through Tuesday evening at Dallas-Fort Worth, one of the world’s busiest airports.

The announcement, made via Twitter, was likely to affect American flights in other parts of the country. In all, American and its American Eagle partner airline canceled 234 outbound flights, according to a statement from American.

By Tuesday evening, more than 47,000 homes and businesses in north Texas were without power, said a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

Jonathan Cook said he was in a bank in south Fort Worth when the storm rolled in and he decided to leave. He went to a nearby gas station, where he ran into a friend whose window had been blown out and a National Weather Service worker with a radio who told them tornadoes were touching down nearby.

“A girl said ‘Look up.’ And there were two funnel clouds that touched down about an eighth of a mile up from us, and debris was flying and we were trying to decide where to go.

“About that time, she said, ‘Look behind us’ — and a third tornado formed behind us, but hadn’t touched down,” Cook said. “And about three minutes after that, the sirens started sounding.”

Among the most dramatic images of the day were from a freight truck depot on the south side of Dallas, where one twister flung semi-trailers high in the air and hundreds of feet from their parking spots.

The lot is owned by Wisconsin-based Schneider National Trucking Company. Company spokeswoman Janet Bonkowski said there were no injuries at the facility and no damage to the building, “but significant damage to the equipment that was in our yard.”

A tractor weighs 20,000 pounds. An empty trailer weighs 14,000 pounds, while a full one weighs about 46,000, the company said.

Damage was also reported in Kennedale and Arlington, Texas. The mayor of the latter city signed a disaster declaration to help cope with the destruction.

“It’s extensive damage,” said Tiara Richard, a spokeswoman for Arlington police. No major injuries have been reported so far, but affected areas were still being searched for people who may be trapped, she said.

Tarrant County spokesman Mark Flake said about 40 homes in Arlington sustained moderate damage. The Cowboys football stadium emerged virtually unscathed, according to its general manager.

In Kennedale, a large water main broke and several people were injured, said city spokeswoman Amethyst Cirmo, though she could not immediately confirm how many. The city’s police chief, however, said there were no reports of deaths or injuries thus far. A community center was opened to residents displaced by the storm.

Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez said the area was hit by “a series of tornadoes” that inflicted heavy damage on some of the southern suburbs.

“Our officers are going to several locations right now,” Valdez said. She said deputies were en route to some of the hardest hit areas to prevent looting, amid reports “that some of that has already started.”

“We have our hands full. There are already a lot of situations where we have to go out and help,” she said.

But all told, damage from the storm could have been much worse, said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

“The big headline is that we dodged a big bullet,” he said. “We’re saddened by the damage the system did, but we’ve got nobody that’s dead and no significant injures. It really is a miracle.”

A tornado watch remained in effect for parts of northeast Texas through Tuesday night.

CNN’s Ed Lavandera, Matt Smith, Chad Myers, Joe Sutton and Brian Todd contributed to this report.

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(CNN) — Tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Forth Worth area Tuesday, tossing tractor trailers like toys, and causing injuries and widespread damage to homes and other structures.

One tornado was spotted on the ground five miles east of downtown Dallas, the National Weather Service said. All flights at Dallas-Fort Worth airport were grounded and passengers and airport employees were moved into shelters as the storm system spawned multiple funnel clouds. Flights at Dallas Love Field airport were also grounded.

A tornado warning was issued for Arlington, Texas, which had already been struck.

“There may be storms behind the storms, making damage in places that already have damage and that now is happening for Arlington, Texas,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Severe damage was reported in the cities of Arlington and Kennedale by Kennedale spokeswoman Amethyst Cirmo.

A large water main broke and several people were injured, she said, though she could not immediately confirm how many. A community center was opened to residents displaced by the storm.

A spokeswoman for Dallas County said she had heard of damage throughout the area.

Video from CNN affiliate WFAA broadcast dramatic footage of the scene, showing tractor trailers being lifted and tossed through the air like matchsticks. Ominous clouds filled the skies, making it as dark as night. The network showed roofs of homes ripped off and trailers turned on their sides.

By Tuesday afternoon, all tornado warnings for the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area were canceled or allowed to expire, the National Weather Service said. A tornado watch continued to be in effect for north-central Texas.

The weather service urged people in the area to move to a bathroom, closet or hallway on the lowest floor of their buildings and take cover.

CNN’s Sean Morris contributed to this report.

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(CNN) — Reports of damage started to trickle in Tuesday from Texas, where separate tornadoes touched down near the Dallas-Forth Worth area.

One tornado was spotted on the ground five miles east of downtown Dallas, the National Weather Service said.

Video from CNN affiliate WFAA broadcast dramatic footage of the scene, showing truck trailers being lifted and tossed like toys. Ominous clouds filled the skies.

There were no immediate reports of injuries, but a spokeswoman for Dallas County said she had heard of damage throughout the area.

Tarrant County spokesman Mark Flake confirmed damage in the city of Arlington along Interstate 20. The extent of the damage was unclear and officials are continuing to assess the situation.

CNN’s Chad Myers said the worst may be yet to come.

“Both storms right now are getting bigger. They both have been rotating, and they both have significant possibilities of damage on the ground heading into DFW,” he said.

The weather service urged people in the area to move to a bathroom, closet or hallway on the lowest floor of their buildings and take cover.

CNN’s Sean Morris contributed to this report.