Dallas — The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Dallas on Sunday night, causing structural damage and knocking out electricity to thousands. The twister was spawned by a huge, powerful storm system pushing up through Texas and bearing down on states to the northeast.
There were no reports of fatalities or serious injuries in Texas as of 12:20 a.m. Monday, according to a release from the city of Dallas, but as the system pushed up through Arkansas one person was killed when a tree fell on their home in the far northwest of the state, near the Missouri line. The Arkansas Emergency Management office confirmed the first fatality , in Benton County, almost 300 miles northeast of Dallas, early Monday morning.
Meteorologist Jason Godwin said radar confirmed the twister hit the ground near Love Field Airport and moved northeast through Dallas on Sunday evening. Local media outlets reported several homes and businesses were damaged in Dallas, with power lines downed and tree limbs scattered across roadways. The city said there were reports of gas leaks north of Walnut Hill in north Dallas. Police and Fire-Rescue were assessing damaged structures.
CBS Dallas reported significant damage to a Home Depot store, with video showing the front of the store a twisted mess of crumpled metal. Major roadways through Dallas were littered with debris from the storm, leaving a major clean-up operation for work crews to tackle with just hours before Monday morning rush hour.
Nearly 112,000 electric customers were without power as of 12:50 a.m., according to Oncor’s online outage map. Around 60,000 of those customers were within Dallas, according to the city, which is opening a shelter by 2 a.m.
The Texas Office of Emergency Management said seven people sustained non-life threatening injuries when an 18-wheeler overturned and hit several other vehicles.
Seven people escaped a structure that collapsed in northwest Dallas, but Dallas Fire-Rescue were searching to see if anyone was left inside, spokesman Jason Evans said. WFAA reported that a convenience store collapsed in the storm, but the clerk told the station that everyone who was inside made it out safely.
Evans said the department had also received multiple calls from people injured in their homes by broken glass.
Godwin said the size and severity of the tornado won’t be known until crews arrive to survey the damage.
The storm happened as multiple severe thunderstorm watches and warnings covered portions of four counties, including Dallas County, and more stormy weather was expected in the area during the overnight hours.
The city of Sachse, a northeast suburb of Dallas, said six houses “sustained significant high-wind damage after severe weather moved through the area Sunday night.” Four homes were left uninhabitable, but no injuries had been reported.
Dallas police said officers in one part of the city were going door-to-door to check on residents.
Citing extensive damage to campuses, the Dallas Independent School District canceled Monday classes at six schools: David G. Burnet Elementary School, Leonides Gonzalez Cigarroa Elementary School, John J. Pershing Elementary School, Walnut Hill Elementary School, Edward H. Cary Middle School and Thomas Jefferson High School. The Episcopal School of Dallas also canceled classes. The schools are all in northwest Dallas.