North Texas residents who were reported missing after an outbreak of severe tornadoes Wednesday have all been found alive.
Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds said Friday that all missing people are accounted for, and the death toll is unlikely to rise above six adults.
Surveying the extensive destruction in Granbury, Texas, residents and volunteers say they are surprised that more people were not killed or seriously injured.
“Most of the homes had people in them when the tornado hit, and most of the people said they couldn’t believe what happened. The American Legion Hall at the bottom of the hill looked like a triage scene from 'M*A*S*H.' ”
An EF-4 category tornado hit Granbury, carrying winds of 166 to 200 m.p.h. and creating a path of destruction spanning 100 yards wide and a mile long. The highest tornado rating is an EF-5, which produces winds faster than 200 m.p.h.
Residents in the Rancho Brazos neighborhood – where more than 70 homes were damaged or destroyed – were evacuated, and authorities said it not clear when they will be able to survey the damage.
"I can't see them being able to get anyone in the area," said Hood County sheriff's spokesman Nathan Stringer. "That area is utterly devastated. I was in there for a couple of hours and I didn't see anything untouched. It was one big debris field."
Amanda Hernandez was at home with her husband and three children, but the warnings on TV didn’t really worry her. The sirens went off about 15 minutes before the tornado hit, so the family hid in a closet.
“It seemed like it lasted for an hour,” she told the Star-Telegram, describing the pounding hail and train-like sound of the twister. Her house lost half its roof, and she said her neighborhood is unrecognizable.
“You could see across where houses were supposed to be,” Ms. Hernandez said.
The Granbury tornado was one of at least 16 confirmed tornadoes that broke out across north Texas Wednesday, which is more than the 10 originally reported.
An EF-3 tornado (with winds ranging from 136 to 164 m.p.h.) hit the town of Cleburne, destroying numerous homes, but officials reported no major injuries or fatalities.
Meteorologist Harold Brooks, who works at National Severe Storms Labratory in Norman, Okla., said he expects 2013 to have one of the lowest levels of tornado-related deaths since the lab began tracking such fatalities in 1954. This is the furthest into tornado season that significant tornadoes have started, he told the Star-Telegram.
The forecast, however, includes a chance for additional storms in the area this weekend, the Weather Channel reports. There are several components in the mix that create tornado conditions: a dip in the jet stream as it moves east from the Rockies, intensifying low-pressure systems, and warm moisture moving inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.