Dramatic Storms Strike Dallas-Fort Worth Area

A line of strong storms moved through the Dallas-Fort Worth area Tuesday with a number of tornadoes touching down. Homes and businesses were damaged across the region but there were no fatalities. As a massive storm approached Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, staff told travelers to seek shelter close to the center of the terminal buildings.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

A flight departure board at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport yesterday told the story. One word was repeated again and again: cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.

INSKEEP: That was just one sign of chaos, as up to a dozen tornadoes spun through the area. Amazingly, nobody was reported killed.

MONTAGNE: But the storms damaged over 600 homes. Hundreds of thousands of children spent the afternoon huddled in hallways...

INSKEEP: ...in schools. And if you have relations in Texas, maybe you had an experience like this: My brother called home to family and friends, and one of them answered his phone from the bathtub.

MONTAGNE: As a new day arrives, flights are still scrambled from Dallas. NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN, BYLINE: The storm's intensity caught some forecasters by surprise. Shortly after noon, tornadoes began dropping from the sky. The most spectacularly moment was caught by WFAA's HD helicopter.

The onboard reporter and meteorologist watched as a tornado ripped through what was soon to be the aptly named Flying J Truck Plaza. Fifteen-thousand pound tractor trailer trucks were sucked up into the funnel and ripped to pieces in front of everyone's eyes. It was quite the performance.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: In Hutchins right now...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Look at that. Oh, my goodness. Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like this, actually lifting these huge trailers...

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Those are thousands of pounds.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: ...and just flinging around like they're just - like they're nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: There's our tornado on the ground. Those are the power flashes. These are the power lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: It's unbelievable.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Thousands of pounds right there just being blown through the sky. So folks, please, a tornado warning...

GOODWYN: Passengers on a couple of dozen planes out on the taxiways at DFW got a scare. The storm passed right over them, pelting the planes with damaging hail, but luckily, no tornado dropped down to propel any of the exposed planes into unscheduled flights.

That was the end of flying at both DFW and Dallas Love for several hours. One hundred mostly American Airlines planes were damaged by hail, and must be inspected carefully before they can fly again.

Thousands spent the night in hotels around the airport. David Magana is a spokesman for DFW.

DAVID MAGANA: We were pulling in passengers away from the glass and getting them into shelter areas 30 minutes before we saw the real heavy part of the cell coming over the airport.

GOODWYN: The suburb of Lancaster took it on the chin. This unidentified man walked out of his badly damaged home, missing much of its roof, and found a local TV reporter.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: My wife called me and woke me up, and as I opened the door, it was coming. My first thought was just hit the tub. You could feel it shaking, I don't know, whomp, whomp noise.

GOODWYN: Injuries however were minor. Things get back to normal today, except at DFW, where it's expected to be another difficult day of many flying, but many others not flying.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

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