Louisiana, Arkansas, and northern Texas experienced what is known as a derecho, or a long lasting severe weather system on Thursday night. This system was powerful and downed trees, knocked out power for thousands, and ruined homes and businesses alike. There was at least one tornado that was spotted near Lake City in Arkansas, but this was not confirmed. On Friday morning, at least 188,000 were still without power in Texas.
There was an area of warm, moist air that was set up throughout Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma on Thursday, and temperatures were in the upper 80’s for most of the region. These conditions were favorable of sustaining the thunderstorms, which in turn developed a cold front.
In a town named Wills Point just east of Dallas, the sustained winds reached as high as 83 mph according to the local storm reports. Also, one person was struck by lightning in Texas as well. A woman was entering her car when the lightning struck nearby. She is said to be doing okay but was taken to a Medical Center for precautionary reasons.
In Texas, the strong storms that barreled through Dallas and Fort Worth left buildings and vehicles alike in ruin, as well as knocking out power for hundreds of thousands as well. A man suffered minor injuries after a roof blew off at a local church in Arlington, according to the police reports. The Fort Worth Stockyards, a popular tourist attraction, has been decimated by the storm. Walls collapsed and piles of bricks were also crushing cars. A revolving door was destroyed by high winds at the University of North Texas Health Science Center according to the National Weather Service.
Some schools were also canceled on Friday because of the power outages combined with the severe weather. Also, a couple of apartment complexes suffered structural damages in Arlington, and many flights were canceled due to the inclement weather. Also, NBC DFW reported that power lines were down on Interstate 20, which immediately halted traffic.
In Arkansas, at least one tornado was spotted. Survey crews with the National Weather Service still have yet to view the storm damage to determine whether or not it was caused by a tornado or just by straight-line winds.
On Thursday, parts of the state also reported that the wind damage was widespread. Little Rock National Airport underwent an evacuation due to a tornado warning that was in effect. On Thursday night, there were reports that cars crashed into trees that were blown down by the storms on Interstate 30, and essentially 40,000 are still without power today.
As for Louisiana, numerous trees and power lines were downed in North Bossier Parish according to local authorities. On Friday morning, at least 10,000 people were still without power. One of the trees that was brought down due to the winds fell onto a mobile home, but luckily no injuries were reported. On Thursday night, the winds in Louisiana gusted all the way up to 60 mph.
In Alabama, very strong gusty winds moved through the state overnight and left moderate damage in its wake. Red Bay, a small town was hit hard by the winds and two roofs were blown off according to reports. National Weather Service teams will conduct a survey of the storm damage to Strayhorn Elementary School in Tate County on Friday morning after the building was severely damaged by the passing storms.