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Texas tornadoes disrupt airline flights, cut off electricity

Texas tornadoes forced the cancellation of 420 American Airline flights Wednesday. Some 92 American Airline planes were out of service due to the Texas tornadoes. And 22,000 homes were without power in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

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Authorities were amazed no one was killed given the intensity of the storm, the number of tornadoes and the population density of the area.

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"The fortunate thing about it is there were some injuries, but no deaths we are aware of at this point," Ladd said Wednesday morning.

It is not uncommon for the Dallas-Fort Worth area to be struck by tornadoes, but "to have storms that do this kind of damage" has probably happened five or six times since the 1950s, Ladd said.

As of Tuesday night, 10 people had been reported injured in the Lancaster area, two severely, and seven in Arlington, one critically, police said.

One tornado lifted trucks like toys in the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air.

Sixth-grader Hailey Pellerin said she and other students had just started lunch when teachers quickly herded students back to their classrooms in their southwest Arlington elementary school.

"We had to duck and cover for two hours," she said. The students were seated, lined up against a wall in their classrooms and covered their heads. "The power went out so it was dark and hot."

The tornado passed about 200 yards (180 meters) from the school, her father David Pellerin said.

On Tuesday evening, the storm system moved east into Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, the weather service said.

Heavy rain pelted the New Orleans area on Tuesday night and Wednesday, producing widespread street flooding, the weather service said. Forecasts called for up to 6 inches of rain through Wednesday evening with a flash flood watch.

The U.S. tornado season started early this year. Tornadoes have been blamed for 57 deaths so far in 2012 in the Midwest and South, raising concerns this year could be a repeat of 2011, the deadliest year in nearly a century for the unpredictable storms.

In 2011, there were 550 tornado deaths, including 316 lives lost on April 27 in five southern states, and a massive tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, Missouri, on May 22.

Tuesday's tornadoes in Texas could prove more costly than a hailstorm nearly a year ago in the Dallas area that caused more than $100 million in insured losses. That April 15, 2011, storm was less damaging in terms of hail and winds.

Insurers have already lost as much as $2 billion during the 2012 tornado season, mostly from a record March 2 outbreak. That follows record-breaking losses of $26 billion during the 2011 tornado season. (Reporting by Jon Nielsen, Corrie MacLaggan, Kathy Finn, Scott DiSavino, Kyle Peterson and David Bailey; Editing by Vicki Allen)

IN PICTURES: Extreme Weather 2012

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