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NWS: Estimated 16 North Texas Tornadoes, Some EF-3 & EF-4

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(credit: Chuck Schechner/KRLD NewsRadio 1080)

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM)Officials with the National Weather Service (NWS) have determined the strength of several tornadoes that touched down across North Texas Wednesday night.

The tornado that touched down in Granbury has been given a preliminary EF-4 rating. That means the twister that touched down could have had winds up to 200 miles an hour. “One-hundred-sixty-six miles an hour to 200 miles an hour is the estimated wind speed of that tornado,” NWS meteorologist Dan Shoemaker explained. “And we don’t measure the winds, we look at the damage and then extrapolate that from the damage back to a wind speed.”

In Johnson County the tornado that touched down in Cleburne has been given a preliminary EF-3 rating. Weather investigators say the most significant damage was just east of Lake Pat Cleburne.

Click For Comprehensive Coverage of the May 2013 Tornado Outbreak

While the only deaths being reported are in Hood County and there was significant damage in Cleburne, those weren’t the only tornadoes that touched down on Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon NWS officials estimate that 15 tornadoes touched down across North Texas.

Shoemaker said, “Until we can get all the team reports back and we hear from emergency managers in the other counties then we’ll have an actual number, but that could take a few days.”

Of the damage from the tornado estimated to have been a mile wide, Cleburne Mayor Scott Cain said, “We will respond. We will unite as a community. We will rebuild, and we will remain very close and we will make certain that everybody’s taken care of.”

The Cleburne Independent School District was closed on Thursday and Community Relations spokesperson Lisa Magers issued a statement  saying, “With power outages and road conditions from Wednesday’s storms still a concern, all CISD campuses will remain closed through Friday, May 17.”

Late Thursday, the NWS confirmed an EF-1 tornado, measuring six miles wide and with winds of 90 miles per hour, touched down in Ellis County.  Most of the destruction is centered in the City of Ennis. Leaders say the storm ripped a path of destruction a few miles long.

A total of 25 residences and 40 commercial buildings were seriously damaged in Ennis, including a number of locations in the historic downtown area. The Mayor of Ennis has already sent a request to Governor Perry asking that the city be declared a disaster area.

City Manager Steve Howerton said in the grand scheme of things are pretty good. “We’ve only had one very minor injury, it was a laceration to an arm and to a head resulting from broken glass. So we are blessed in that respect,” he said. “All of the critical infrastructure of the city is in place. Our hospital is in good condition. Our schools will all be open and observing their regular schedule today, so in that respect again, we’ve been spared.”

Thursday afternoon officials did confirm that damage caused in Parker County, in and around the Town of Millsap, was from a tornado. The twister that touched down in Millsap has been given a preliminary rating of EF-1. Winds from an EF-1 twister register between 86 and 110 miles an hour.

As of Thursday afternoon, the death toll from Wednesday night’s storms stood at six, with all of those deaths in the Rancho Brazos subdivision in Granbury. The identities of those killed, two women and four men, have not been released.

Storm and tornado damage left dozens of other people with injuries, and hundreds homeless. Officials with Oncor report some 8,500 people, across five counties remain without power.

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