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Deadly swarm of tornadoes strikes north Texas

Only the foundation of this home in Granbury, TX remains after May 16 tornado. (National Weather Service)

Up to 10 tornadoes touched down in north Texas late Wednesday, one of which led to at least 6 deaths and more than 50 injuries in Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Dallas. Seven people remain unaccounted for according to reports.

“The powerful storm crushed buildings as it tore through the area, leaving some as just piles of planks and rubble,” reports the Associated Press. “Trees and debris were scattered across yards, fences flattened.”

In the hardest hit Rancho Brazos subdivision of Granbury, most of the 110 homes were destroyed says CNN. The Dallas Morning News reports 250 people were escorted out of the Granbury area.

Debris is piled into a fence after a tornado tore thru the area in Granbury, Texas, May 16. (RALPH LAUER, EPA)

The National Weather Service preliminary storm survey for the Granbury tornado says the damage is consistent with an EF-4 (on the 0-5 scale) tornado, with peak winds of 166-200 mph.


As the tornado struck Granbury, doppler radar revealed an unmistakably tight “velocity couplet” (winds blow towards and away from the radar site), indicative of the violent rotation associated with the storm.


The storm not only spawned the violent tornado, but also hail up to the size of grapefruits.

Here’s a video of the Granbury tornado: A large tornado also ripped through Cleburne, Texas, about 30 miles southeast of Granbury.  Storm spotters reported the twister was a mile wide.


This storm also flattened homes.


The deadly, destructive outbreak of tornado follows one of the quietest periods for twisters in the U.S record.  The death toll from Granbury tornado comes close to matching the total number of fatalities from tornadoes in the U.S. in past 12 months (7).

Here’s an Associated Press video report on the Granbury tornado:

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
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David Streit · May 16, 2013

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