2015-12-26 REPORTS: TX

Randy Jennings

May 18, 2013
I got a late start on this day. I had a lot to get done, one of my chase partners was out of town, and the other didn't want to go. After things started to fire, I set a target of Greenville, TX and headed out. The storms where moving faster than I expected and I misjudged traffic. The northeastern most cell in the line was starting to hit an unfavorable environment and reducing in strength so I stopped in Princeton, TX to revaluate. Looking at radar I noticed that there was a solid line of warned storms (or storms that had been warned) from NE to SW, except for down near the Waco/Hillsboro area. I put the radar in motion and noticed that the cells between Waco and Hillsboro where building, but where not severe yet. I decided to turn around and take US 380 back to McKinney and then head south on US 75 to Dallas and then planned to head south on I-35E to see if I could intercept the Waco/Hillsboro cells if they intensified. That turned out to be a good move, as they became warned when I was in southern Dallas County. I stopped for a while at Ovilla Rd and I-35E in Red Oak. Shields Elem School, which was significantly damaged later, was a couple of blocks to my west. I was in the path of the storm and I couldn't see anything to my SW because it was rain wrapped. I decided to turn around and I went a couple of miles north and took Pleasant Run Rd to the east towards Wilmer TX (where it intersects I-45) to get out of it's path. I then took I-45 north back to Dallas following the storm in it's rear flank. By this time, there where two areas of rotation on radar, one to my east and one to my north. I decided to stay on I-45 (which becomes US 75) and follow the northern cell instead of taking I-30 to try to follow the eastern cell. The eastern cell turned out to be the one that produced EF4 damage in Garland and EF3 damage in Rowlett. All I saw with the northern cell was some power flashes. As I was reporting power flashes in the northern cell to the Skywarn net, another spotter on the eastern cell was reporting the tornado crossing I-30. In retrospect, I'm kind of glad I took the route I did even though I didn't get to see a tornado. Had I taken I-30 east, I likely would have been one of the first folks to drive thru the area where 8 folks lost their lives when their vehicles where tossed from the I-30/George Bush Turnpike interchange by the tornado. I'm glad I was not the one making that report.
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Reactions: Rob Wadsworth
Nov 4, 2008
Norman, OK
Paige and I sat at the Loves in Sanger most of the day watching the storms south of D/FW. The HRRR was pretty insistent on one or two intense supercells impacting the D/FW Metroplex in the 00-02Z timeframe. After some crapvection in the mid-afternoon skies cleared out and it felt like an April afternoon. Once it became apparent that the storm(s) near Hillsboro were becoming surface-based we booked it south through Dallas and arrived in Waxahachie at the same time as the first tornadic supercell. The first power flashes we observed were just north of Midway airport while we were on the Red Oak/Waxahachie line on 35E. We continued north on 35E roughly parallel to the tornado located about 3 miles to our west. A large barrel was clearly visible along with an impressive RFD that wrapped around it. The tornado passed a few miles east of my parent's place in Cedar Hill. Definitely wasn't expecting that kind of a tornado in D/FW that evening but obviously it was outdone about 30 minutes later. The North Texas IWT worked well that night and undoubtedly saved many lives.

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