5:15 p.m.: Minor storm damage is reported in Paris, Texas. One home was damaged by fire after a lightning strike. Ten trees are down; one is on fire after also being hit by lightning. Two power lines have also been toppled, but only a small number of homes in the Paris area are said to be affected. - WFAA
4:40 p.m.: The worst is over.
What began as a slew of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings and a nearly unified Tornado Watch across the major four counties in North Texas has shrunk to a single warning in Hopkins County. That will expire at 4:45 p.m.
While wind gusts reached more than 70 miles per hour in some places today, the threat of tornadoes never materialized. The cap above the region helped keep the storms in check. The major concern was whether any cells would break out ahead of the squall line. Those isolated cells carry the greatest likelihood of tornadoes.
However, that never happened. Rain-cooled air under the squall kept the most severe storms at bay. The cells at the edge of the line also ingested the cooled air, causing a major dip in severity. The cells are now moving southeast, stretching from Killeen all the way up through Oklahoma into Arkansas.
Now it's time for county officials to begin responding to downed power lines, electric outages, stranded vehicles and blown transformers. Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans reported betwen 25 and 30 vehicle accidents –– one involved a pedestrian –– and 20 downed power lines "related to utility wires down or transformers blown."
"Strangely enough, there were no listed calls for water rescues," Evans said.
3:46 p.m.: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport has lifted its ground stop, in place since about 2 p.m.
3:42 p.m.: When we spoke with ONCOR spokeswoman Anna Kurian about an hour ago, she all but promised further outages in the area. Now we can see that's true: Currently, 20,070 customers are without power in the Dallas/Fort Worth Area. That's up from about 5,000 at 2:45 p.m.
3:35 p.m.: It looks like areas west of Dallas are clear of tornadic threats. The National Weather Service has canceled the Tornado Watch for Denton to Parker counties and points west. The threat continues for areas east of Dallas.
3:30 p.m.: Gov. Rick Perry has ordered a Level II activation of the State Operations Center, which orders a host of state agencies –– including Texas Department of Transportation, the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and the Texas Animal Health Commission, among others –– to be at the ready in case they're needed to respond to damaging weather.
"The National Weather Service is forecasting a line of super cell storms developing over the area between the Red River and the Hill Country early this afternoon, and sweeping east across the state over the next 12 hours. These storms have to potential to create heavy rain, large hail and damaging winds, including tornadic activity," the governor's office says.
3:18 p.m.: The worst part of the squall line stretches from the northern half of Dallas County to around Bonham. The line is moving east at 45 mph. Winds continue to gust in excess of 60 mph in many locations along the line.
Fortunately, we continue to see no evidence of any isolated supercell storms forming ahead of the line. But since there really is no way of predicting such an occurrence, we continue to monitor for that possibility. But if you are west of this line, your severe weather threat has ended.
Rain is starting to come to a close in Denton & Tarrant County. Our tornado threat continues ahead of the squall line in our eastern zones.
2:59 p.m.: Pea-sized hail is falling in Lewisville. Power lines have also been reported down at Royal Lane and Webb Chapel Road in Dallas. Storm sirens are sounding in Greenville amid 70 mph winds and the NWS has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning until 4:15 p.m.
2:49 p.m.: ONCOR reported power outages include more than 2,500 customers in Collin County, more than 1,300 in Dallas County, more than 975 in Tarrant County, and more than 365 customers in Denton County.
"Given the size and severity of the storm, we expect that number to grow," said ONCOR spokeswoman Anna Kurian.
2:43 p.m.: Rain-cooled air continues to undercut the squall line keeping the storms from getting too out of control. Still, wind gusts in excess of 60 mph are possible in scattered locations up and down a line located from Bonham to Dallas to Hamilton. After this squall line pushes through, we're done with the severe weather threat to the Dallas-Fort Worth Area.
2:23 p.m.: We continue to see the storms holding in a solid line which continues to keep our tornado potential in check. Even the storms that try to form ahead of the line, quickly get absorbed by the line and thus do not get to spin by themselves for long.
But remember, it does not take a tornado to produce damaging winds. This line has had numerous reports of 60 to 75 mph winds (although not every single storm within the line is this strong).
The line is moving east at 45 mph.
2:08 p.m.: The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered a ground stop until at least 3 p.m. for both Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field.
2 p.m.: Severe Thunderstorm Warnings have now been issued for Dallas and Tarrant counties until 2:45 p.m. The storms are moving east at 45 miles per hour. There are strong winds associated with these storms –– Decatur in Wise County has reported downed trees.
1:45 p.m.: Add Collin and Grayson counties to the list of Severe Thunderstorm Warnings, these until 2:45 p.m. The NWS also reports damage at the Denton Municipal Airport from a 73 mile per hour wind gust.
1:30 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Denton and Wise counties until 2:15 p.m. Storms are moving east at 40 miles per hour. In Decatur, wind gusts have reached 63 mph.
1:15 p.m.: The squall line is approaching our area as expected, however cold air is rushing out in front of it, which is keeping the storms from getting too strong for the moment.
The heart of the storm seems be in Montague County; its northernmost tip extends through Sulphur County in Oklahoma and its southernmost putters out around Palo Pinto County. As predicted, it's traveling east into North Texas.
Now, the catch with this so-called 'gust front' is that if the storms catch up with it, they could rapidly intensify. Our weather team –– Pete Delkus, Steve McCauley, Greg Fields and Colleen Coyle –– are all watching for isolated storm development ahead of the line. As mentioned earlier, those single supercells are the most likely producer of tornadoes.
1:05 p.m.: The Catholic Diocese of Dallas sends word that Bishop Lynch and Bishop Dunne are each closing early. Allen Independent School District won't be releasing students early, however all after school events are canceled today. Again, keep an eye on closures with this link.
Original report, 11 a.m.:
Much of North Texas is under a tornado watch until 7 p.m. as severe storms make their southeastern march into the region.
A slow moving cold front will slide through the Dallas/Fort Worth Area this afternoon and evening, bringing widespread showers and thunderstorms along with it. News 8’s Chief Meteorologist Pete Delkus says the line of storms is moving slowly to the southeast from Wichita Falls.
“Initially, the thunderstorms will not be severe, but heavy rain, gusty winds and small hail will be likely,” Delkus says.
Meteorologist Steve McCauley estimates these storms to reach the region around 2 p.m. Starting at noon, the atmosphere will begin to destabilize as the front mashes with the warm temperatures closer to the ground. Delkus says this will fuel scattered super cell thunderstorms throughout the region.
McCauley estimates the cap over Dallas/Fort Worth to be gone by early afternoon, “allowing these storms to pass throughout without hindrance.”
However, the main concern, says McCauley, is if any isolated storms slip out ahead of that line. These isolated cells have the highest probability of spinning up a tornado. At the least, McCauley expects a “damaging wind event” to blow through the area at some time between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.
“In some areas, certainly not all, hail may be driven horizontally into homes and buildings,” McCauley said.
These storms will likely have winds of up to 60 miles per hour and possibly produce isolated tornadoes. These isolated cells aren’t guaranteed to break through the line, but the possibility is what led to the National Weather Servicing issuing the tornado watches across Tarrant, Denton, Dallas, Collin and other surrounding counties.
By late afternoon, these scattered super cells will merge into a single large line of storms and exit North Texas to the southeast. The worst of the storm line should be past Denton and Tarrant counties by 5 p.m., but will still be active in Collin and Dallas counties.
By 8 p.m., that large line of storms will have moved out of Dallas/Fort Worth. It will stretch from the Hill Country all the way to Tyler and the state’s most northeastern counties.
Several schools in North Texas have already announced that they will release students ahead of the storms. For details on which, head here.