Friday, April 30 is a day that East Texans will not soon (if ever) forget. A grand total of eight tornadoes hit East Texas, causing major damage and declarations of emergencies for several counties. We also had record flooding—unfortunately leading to about a half-dozen fatalities.
In this post, we’ll review all the tornadoes, along with the details from the National Weather Service. Tornadoes will be in order of occurrence.
TORNADO #1: Lindale
The first tornado that touched down was in Lindale, TX. This storm became tornado-warned out of Athens, moving toward Van/Edom, and intensified and dropped a tornado in the heart of downtown Lindale.
This storm touched down at 5:50PM near the intersection of HWY 69 & Mayor Street. Damage there was minor roof damage to homes, but as it crossed HWY 69, the damage was catastrophic to the Hibbett Sports and Dollar Tree stores. It was on the ground for two minutes, and lifted near Jim Hogg Road (CR 431) & Pierce Street, doing more damage to the subdivisions between HWY 69 & CR 431. The rating for this tornado was an EF-2, with winds between 110-115 mph (Images 2 & 3).
TORNADO #2: Lindale, into Wood County & Upshur County
An EF-2, multi-vortex tornado, with winds between 120-125 mph, began near CR 499 & CR 4100 at 5:55PM. As it traveled northeast, it caused a lot of tree damage. However, the damage increased as it approached FM 16 & FM 2710. A cell phone tower, a house, and two mobile homes sustained major damage from this tornado. It continued northeast and crossed into Wood County. Damage was reported around the Holly Lake area and north of Hawkins—where the Ozarka Water Bottling Plant had major roof damage.
The tornado continued to move northeast and went just east of Holly Lake and went into Upshur County. It finally lifted at 6:32PM near FM 852 between Horse & Greyhound Roads.
The distance of this tornado from Lindale to near Grice was almost 30 miles, and the path width was about 1.8 miles wide. Two injuries were reported here (Images 4 – 8).
TORNADO #3: Southern Cherokee County—Alto
An EF-2 tornado, with winds between 105-115 mph, began about 4.3 miles southwest of Alto along CR 2807 (west of FM 220) at 7:33PM. Nearly 30 homes sustained damage, including two homes that lost their roofs completely. The tornado went along/west of downtown Alto, ending 3 miles north of Alto around CR 2438 at 7:45PM. The tornado also destroyed at least two travel trailers and several outbuildings (Images 9 – 12).
TORNADO #4: Cherokee County near Reklaw
A small EF-1 tornado, with winds of 95-105 mph, began almost six miles southwest of Reklaw and lifted about 4.5 miles southwest of Reklaw. This tornado was small in width—spanning only 150 yards, and on the ground from 7:54PM to 7:56PM. It hit a wooded area and moved through a cluster of chicken houses before lifting (Images 13 – 15).
TORNADO #5: Southern Harrison County
Late in the evening, another tornado touched down about 14 miles Southeast of Marshall at 10:21PM. It began south of CR 1311 and traveled northeast in parallel with Caney Creek and lifted west of CR 1207. The report says that trees were knocked over or uprooted. This tornado was on the ground for 5.65 miles & for 12 minutes (Images 16 & 17). It was rated an EF-1 with winds at 95 mph.
TORNADO #6: Eastern Harrison County
At 10:46PM, another tornado touched down just 4 miles northwest of Waskom along CR 2705 and north of FM 134. Two mobile homes were severely damaged as the tornado moved north/northeast. FM 9 had scattered tree and powerline damage, before lifting at FM 199. This tornado was also rated an EF-1 with winds at 105 mph, staying on the ground for almost 15 minutes. It traveled nearly 6 miles and was as wide as two football fields (Images 18 & 19).
TORNADO #7: Northern Harrison County
A third tornado hit Harrison County, and this one was north of Marshall. The EF-1 tornado (winds at 110 mph) began at 12:34AM Saturday morning five miles North-Northwest of Marshall near CR 4000 (one mile north of Holmes Lake). The tornado went East-Northeast, crossing over HWY 59 near the Karma Farm. There, it damaged two homes. It continued moving ENE and crossed FM 1793 and then to CR 2106—leveling fields of trees. The tornado finally lifted about a half a mile east of CR 2107 & Buckhorn Road at 12:46AM (Images 20 & 21).
TORNADO #8: San Augustine County, East of Broaddus
This EF-1 tornado occurred at 4:44AM Saturday morning nine miles southeast of Broaddus on the Northern Shore of Sam Rayburn Lake at the Anthony Harbor subdivision. Here, it uprooted numerous trees—falling onto homes. The tornado was widest at this point. It then went North-Northeast toward HWY 83—crossing north of the Ayish Bayou Bridge. At this location, two electrical lines were leaning in a Northeasterly path because of the winds. It continued into a wooded area north of HWY 83 and CR 430, and lifted t 4:51AM as it crossed FM 1751 (Images 22 & 23).
TORNADO SCALE & HOW A “TORNADO” IS DETERMINED:
The most common way to determine the strength of a tornado is by looking at the damage. From there—along with radar indicated wind speeds—one can determine the estimated wind speeds of a tornado and its impact. The scale used is the Enhanced Fujita Scale.
There are a lot of factors that go into the rating of a tornado, including building type, structure type, tree type, and other indicators. The result is a scale that looks like this (Image 24).
To read more about how a tornado forms & safety tips in a tornado, see our story from Severe Weather Awareness Week.