Weather

Six Takeaways From Sunday’s Tornado

A house devastated by Sunday's storm
A house devastated by Sunday's storm Lucas Manfield
The tornado that touched down near Love Field on Sunday devastated a large swath of North Dallas. Here's what you need to know.

There were actually 10 tornadoes in North Texas.

The National Weather Service identified the 10th on Thursday afternoon: a smaller twister, an EF-0, with wind speeds of 80 mph that hit western Allen.

That one paled in comparison to the big tornado that swept west to east through northern Dallas, hurling cars and flattening buildings. It touched down just before 9 p.m. Sunday with 140 mph winds and was classified as EF-3 on the 0-to-5 scale meteorologists use to classify tornadoes' destructive power.


click to enlarge A house devastated by Sunday's storm - LUCAS MANFIELD
A house devastated by Sunday's storm
Lucas Manfield
It will be the most expensive Dallas storm yet.

The storm caused $2 billion in damages, according to Insurance Council of Texas. Around 30,000 home and auto claims will be filed, according to the group's projections.

This would far exceed the cost from Dallas' last major tornado, an EF-4 that swept through Garland, Rowlett and Sunnyvale on Dec. 26, 2015, and caused $1.2 billion in damages.

The early warning system works.

Automated cellphone messages and outdoor sirens alerted many residents to the oncoming twister. These systems are triggered by the National Weather Service, which sent out a warning at 7 p.m. on Sunday, two hours before the big tornado touched down.

"We did a very good job in our warning process," said Jennifer Dunn, a warning coordination meteorologist at the Fort Worth office of the National Weather Service.

The agency had been tracking the storm since Thursday and had sent out its first briefing to local agencies on Saturday, Dunn said.

"I think the fact that we did not have any significant injuries or deaths that we know of so far, especially within the Dallas County area, is a true testament to the warning system working," she added.

Teams from the National Weather Service are still out poring over the wreckage from the storm to determine the number and severity of the tornadoes. The discovery of the one in Allen on Thursday afternoon followed reports of damage in the area, Dunn said.

Although most tornadoes hit in spring, October is a secondary peak season due to frequent cold fronts, Dunn said. She warned Dallas residents to be on alert throughout the year for severe weather.

Most, but not all, services have been restored.

Most of the 150,000 homes that lost power on Sunday night have had their service restored. But 1,500 still remain without electricity, due to "one area of extensively damaged electric equipment," according to a statement released by ONCOR.

Atmos Energy, the natural gas provider that shut off the gas to many homes in the affected area as a precaution, has deployed helicopters to identify areas needing further inspection.

City services have largely been restored, as streets have reopened following the clearing of brush. But normal brush disposal services have been canceled into November. The city also warned that it's received an "unusually high volume" of building permit requests, and that the backlog may delay their approval.

Power was restored to three Dallas ISD schools on Thursday, but John J. Pershing Elementary School remained without power. Its students will continue going to Alfred J. Loos Field House in Addison.

As the rebuilding begins, contractors will be in short supply. Watch out for scammers.

Ken Malcolmson, the CEO of the North Dallas Chamber of Commerce, said he expects the rebuilding to happen quickly and that access to contractors may be the limiting factor.

"Everybody's going to be fighting for roofing and restoration," he said.

This scarcity opens the door to bad actors. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned homeowners this week about predatory contractors.

"While rebuilding, I encourage all those impacted to beware of unreliable contractors who fail to perform work they were paid to do," read a statement released by his office.

It recommends that affected homeowners verify a contractors license number, consult the Better Business Bureau and never pay up front. Suspicious behavior can be reported to the office at (800) 621-0508.

You can help.

Neighbors, family and friends were out helping to clean up in the wake of the storm. So were Home Depot employees, who volunteered across the city cleaning up debris. Many of them worked at the store near Forest Lane that was destroyed by the storm.

If you'd like to contribute, Dallas ISD is accepting donations in the form of $25-30 gift cards, which can be sent to 9400 N. Central Expressway, Box 21, Dallas, TX 75231. The district is also looking for volunteers to help those impacted by the storm. Sign up here or call (972) 925-5440.
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Lucas Manfield is an editorial fellow at the Observer. He's a former software developer and a recent graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
Contact: Lucas Manfield