One Year Ago Today: 17 Tornadoes Hit DFW

No fatalities recorded after 17 tornadoes touch down on April 3, 2012

Much-needed rain was in the forecast Wednesday, but the weather was not as severe as what North Texans experienced on this day last year.

Last year on April 3, 17 tornadoes touched down across the Metroplex, injuring 30 and damaging thousands of structures, according to the National Weather Service.

Three separate EF2 tornadoes, one EF3 and 13 EF0 tornadoes were recorded while severe afternoon thunderstorms pushed through Dallas-Fort Worth.

In Kennedale and Arlington, more than 500 homes and buildings were damaged and 32 were destroyed as an EF2 tornado cut a 4.6-mile curved swath through the southwestern part of the city.

Hundreds of homes, a church, a nursing home and other businesses were damaged. Seven people were injured.

The tornado was responsible for the remarkable story of Roberta Minnono, a Kennedale woman who was home recovering from knee surgery and sitting in her recliner when the tornado picked up her mobile home and flipped it over several times before dropping it and Minnono back on the ground.

The mayors for Arlington and Kennedale declared their cities disaster areas following the storms.

Another EF2 was recorded in Lancaster and Dallas, where about half of the 300 homes damaged by the tornadoes were destroyed.

In all, the tornado was on the ground for 7.1 miles and damaged an estimated 2,000 buildings while injuring 10 people. It was responsible for some of the most memorable images from the storm, such as when Chopper 5 recorded empty big-rig trailers from a trucking facility carried aloft by 130 mph winds.

Some Lancaster residents marked the one-year anniversary of the tornadoes with a block party that turned into a house party when rain came through.

"We were going to let the rain stop us, because this is something we planned for and we looked for, and I believe every year that we will probably try to do this," said Gwen Edwards, who hosted the event.

She moved back into her rebuilt home in December after spending several months in a hotel. She was at home and recovering from a stroke when the tornado hit her house.

"I was [taking cover] over the side on the bathtub with my hands on the top of my head, calling on the Lord, the only person I knew could help me at the time," she said.

Around the corner, the Robinson family moved back into their renovated home in October. But they don't have to look far to find reminders of the storm -- the destroyed house next door remains practically untouched today.

"We decided to stay," Natasha Robinson said. "They didn't want to deal with the issue of having to rebuild, so they just moved. With everything around us pretty much fixed, it does make it look bad."

A third EF2 first touched down in Rockwall County near Royse City and headed 3.1 miles northeast into Hunt County. This tornado destroyed three homes and damaged several others. The storm that spawned this tornado also created an EF3 tornado that occurred near Forney in Kaufman County.

The EF3 was on the ground for more than eight miles with wind speeds at about 150 mph. The greatest damage from occurred in the Diamond Creek subdivision, where two homes were destroyed and several others were heavily damaged, the NWS said. The tornado moved one car about 300 yards and damaged the roof of Crosby Elementary School, closing the school for a week

At Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, a total of more than 1,600 flights were canceled because of the storm and associated damage.

After touring the tornado-ravaged areas of  Kennedale, Arlington, Lancaster and Forney by air, Gov. Rick Perry stopped in Lancaster and shared his findings while talking about the plan for recovery.

"It's a stunning amount of devastation and then 100 yards over it looks like another beautiful, bluebird day in Texas," Perry said. "When you look across the road back east, there is a high school, there is a community college. Those are untouched, thank goodness, but again, standing right behind me, there is some family who has lost practically everything they own."

Perry would later declare parts of Tarrant, Dallas and Kaufman counties disaster areas. Insurance industry experts said in the days after the storm that claims from the storm would exceed $300 million.

For as violent as the storms and tornadoes were, and considering how many of them touched down in densely populated areas, many consider it a miracle that no one was killed.

A number of NBC 5 reporters, the Associated Press and the NWS contributed to the original reporting used to create this article.  For more coverage of the April 3, 2012 tornadoes, visit our special section on the tornadoes here.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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