Continuing Coverage of Tornado Outbreaks in North Texas

Tornado Warning Systems Gave Plenty of Notice

Citizens in most damaged areas had average lead time of 28 minutes

By Frank Heinz
|  Thursday, Apr 5, 2012  |  Updated 3:10 PM CDT
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Photos: Tornadoes Touch Down in North Texas

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Residents search for personal belongings after a tornado destroyed their home on April 3, 2012 in Arlington.

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Data from the National Weather Service shows how early warning systems can help save lives during times of deadly weather.

During Tuesday's storms, the cities of Arlington, Lancaster and Forney had an average of 28 minutes between the time Tornado Warnings were issued and a tornado causing damage.

Only one of the dozen twisters to hit North Texas Tuesday had a warning time of less than 20 minutes, and that was the first twister that touched down in Johnson County just six minutes after the warning was issued.

As the Johnson County storm cell continued to head northeast into the Tarrant County cities of Kennedale and Arlington, residents and businesses had 37 minutes lead time to prepare for the storm with a history of producing tornadoes.

After it passed, a tornado had touched down and damaged or destroyed more than 420 structures. It was later determined to be an EF-2 with wind speeds between 111 and 135 mph.

In Dallas County, those in Lancaster had 21 minutes between the time the Tornado Warning was issued and the storm causing damage.  That tornado damaged at least 300 structures, though Gov. Rick Perry suggested Thursday that the EF-3 tornado (winds between 136 and 165 mph) that hit Lancaster may have impacted as many as 2,500 structures.

Forney residents had 25 minutes to find shelter before the Tornado Warning issued for Kaufman County would cause any damage.  More than 70 homes were ultimately damaged or destroyed by that tornado, which was rated an EF-3 by the NWS.

Though more than a dozen tornadoes are believed to have damaged somewhere between 800 and 3,000 structures, not counting cars, only minor injuries have been reported.

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