North Texas torn up by 16 tornadoes

Widespread damage from powerful twisters

By Eric Braate - Weather Executive Producer

HOUSTON - By Thursday evening, the National Weather Service had confirmed 16 tornadoes in north Texas from the previous day, Wednesday, May 15.

The two strongest storms were an EF-4 tornado near Granbury and an EF-3 tornado near Cleburne.  These cities are to the south-southwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The strongest tornado, an EF-4 on the Enhanced Fujita scale for tornado severity, was in Granbury.  This tornado produced complete devastation in a swath 3/4 mile wide and 2 to 3 miles long. Multiple homes were leveled, trailers were tossed more than 100 yards, and cars were thrown into the air.

The Cleburne tornado, an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, was another extremely strong tornado, but slightly weaker than the Granbury tornado.  In Cleburne, homes were severely damaged but not leveled.

The damage photos shown above from Granbury and Cleburne are from the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Dallas/Fort Worth.

The other tornadoes that touched down in North Texas Wednesday night were weaker and did not produce as much damage.

Tornadoes are classified by the local branch the National Weather Service where the storm occurs. Officials survey the damage caused by a tornado and assign a wind speed to the storm based on the type of damage they find. The wind speed is estimated based on the severity of the damage because we don't have the technology to directly measure a tornado's wind real-time during the storm. The Enhanced Fujita Scale, shown below, is the standard scale for categorizing all tornadoes in the U.S.

The Granbury tornado, with estimated 200 mph winds, was almost as strong as tornadoes get.  It almost fell into the EF-5 category, which is the top end of the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

As officials at the NWS continue to gather information, the assessments of all 16 tornadoes may change slightly, but if you would like to read the latest report from the Dallas/Fort Worth NWS office, click here.

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