Northern Ellis County was struck by at least a pair of tornadoes on Sunday night, causing power outages, downed trees, school cancellations for Monday, and damage in a couple of areas in Midlothian, Oak Leaf and Ferris.
The storm was followed a couple of hours later by a squall line that accompanied a strong cold front sweeping in from the west.
No significant injuries were reported in Ellis County.
Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued a disaster declaration for 16 counties in North Texas, including Ellis, providing resources to speed recovery.
On Tuesday, the National Weather Service sent out a crew to assess the damage and determined that a brief EF-1 tornado with 100-mph winds touched down in the Midlothian area. A second brief twister, rated EF-0 with wind of 80 mph, touched down in Oak Leaf and Ferris.
In Midlothian, damage in the 9th Street area near U.S. Highway 67 was reported, and the Midlothian Police Department reported downed power lines in the southbound lanes of North Midlothian Parkway at U.S. 67. The NWS observed wind damage near Baxter Elementary School as well.
Pictures of the storm and its aftermath also made it to social media. Twitter poster Nicole Davis reported that there was damage all around Walnut Grove Middle School, posting a number of photos. Storm chaser Adam Lucio posted a photo of what appeared to be a funnel cloud and a power flash underneath it.
Radar showed a thunderstorm with a pronounced hook echo that moved across Midlothian just after 9 p.m. The storm tracked east and north along the top edge of Ellis County, later causing a confirmed EF-0 tornado in Van Zandt County.
Oncor, the state’s primary electricity provider, reported that about 10 percent of Ellis County customers were without power following the storm Sunday night. Power in Ellis County was fully restored as of Tuesday evening.
Midlothian Independent School District canceled classes for Monday because of the power outages that hit five campuses and a couple of auxiliary buildings. However, by Tuesday, power was restored to all campuses and classes resumed as normal.
“Everything’s back up, and I appreciate everyone’s assistance with that,” MISD superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter said at Monday’s MISD monthly board meeting. “I know our principals and maintenance crew and custodial staff did an outstanding job this morning.”
A separate storm to the north caused widespread damage in North Dallas, destroying a Home Depot, damaging numerous homes and businesses, snapping power poles and billboards, and downing trees.
It’s the third time this decade, and the second time in less than four years, that the Midlothian area has been hit with a tornado.
An EF-3 twister first touched down just east of the city on Dec. 26, 2015, damaging or destroying about 40 homes in the Bob White Road neighborhood. The funnel churned onward into Ovilla and Red Oak, where more homes and an elementary school were damaged. On May 20, 2010, a small funnel briefly touched down near the intersection of U.S. 67 and 287, blowing three 18-wheelers onto their sides. That tornado happened in mid-afternoon and was captured by several photographers.
The City of Midlothian has opened up the Mockingbird water tower site for disposal of tree limbs and shrub debris. The site will be open daily through this Monday, Oct. 28, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. No other debris is allowed, including fence panels, the city said, and added that the drop-off is for residential use only and not for professional tree trimming services.
Fundraising efforts are underway to assist those impacted by the tornado. The United Way of West Ellis County is managing donations at the request of Ellis County Emergency Management & Long-Term Disaster Recovery Committee. The United Way said 100 percent of all donations will go to support local tornado relief efforts in the county.