ARGYLE — Busted windows on homes and cars lined the streets of several Denton County cities after Sunday night's thunderstorms, which brought baseball-sized hail primarily to the southern parts of the county.
Roofers were dispatched to cities such as Argyle, where hail pelted rooftops and shattered some vehicles' rear windshields. Twigs and branches were strewn across residential streets from high wind gusts. One home in Justin caught fire after it was struck by lightning, and officials said one person sustained minor injuries in Little Elm after being struck by hail.
Residents have begun to file insurance claims, but the Insurance Council of Texas does not yet have an estimate of the amount of damage the storm did, said spokesman Mark Hanna.
"It's only day one of claims," Hanna said.
While insurers don't have estimates yet, they expect losses may be lower because the storm's path threaded through mostly rural areas.
"If the storm hit downtown Denton, Dallas or Plano, it would have been catastrophic," Hanna said.
As roofers made their way to homes throughout the county, local police departments reminded residents to be wary of roofing scams.
The Denton Police Department released information about multiple types of scams, such as the "disappearing" down payment. In this scam, contractors require a down payment for the materials needed and later disappear with the money before work is completed.
Freddy Murphy, a project manager at Linear Roofing and General Contractors LLC, was fixing roofs in Argyle when he talked about the dangers of hiring nonreputable contractors.
"If they're trying to give you money -- if they're trying to give you free items -- you have to wonder, where are they pulling that money from?" he said. "It's coming from the integrity of your roofing system."
Damage was minimal within the city of Denton. Fire department spokesman Kenneth Hedges said the department did not receive any reports of major damage related to the storm. It was a far cry from the costly storm on April 3, 2014, when hail and small tornadoes tore through central Denton and caused about $850 million in damage. The storm ranks as the state's ninth most costly, ahead of Hurricane Alicia from 1983.
While there were reports of a tornado touchdown in Justin on Sunday, officials at the National Weather Service could not confirm a tornado had touched down anywhere in Denton County. Storm spotters positioned throughout the county only saw wall clouds with funnel formations, according to Denton County Emergency Services Director Jody Gonzalez.
Gonzalez added that some storm spotters' vehicles sustained heavy hail damage.
"Four spotters had windows busted out while they were out storm spotting," he said.
Guy Story, the coordinator for Denton County Amateur Radio Emergency Services, works with the National Weather Service to position storm spotters in the county. Story, whose role is similar to a dispatcher, said he was focused on three specific storm systems in Ponder, Justin and Lewisville on Sunday night.
But, he said, those storms never materialized into a confirmed tornado.
Hail sizes ranged from 1 inch (size of a quarter) to 4.25 inches (size of a softball) in diameter, with the smallest hitting Denton and the largest hitting Corinth, according to data from the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center. Hail about 2.75 inches (size of a baseball) in diameter also struck Copper Canyon and Lake Dallas, the data showed.
Several area school district officials spent their Monday mornings surveying damaged buildings and vehicles.
Denton ISD spokesman Mario Zavala said schools in the southern portion of the district south of Ryan Road saw some minor roof damage, but that none of the air-conditioning units were harmed.
Argyle schools saw heavier roof damage as baseball-sized hail pelted the area.
Windows in Argyle ISD's intermediate school cafeteria and administration corridor shattered during the storm. The hail also damaged school buses and Chevrolet Suburbans, causing dents and broken mirrors.
Argyle ISD Superintendent Telena Wright said water damaged the high school auditorium and the middle school stage area.
Liberty Christian School reported damage to canvas canopies at its playground in addition to battered school-owned vehicles.
Little Elm ISD reported a two-and-a-half hour delay in bus routes Monday morning after hail damaged 35 of its 48 buses.
Spokeswoman Cecilia Jones said the district's third-party transportation service brought in loaned buses from Eagle Mountain-Saginaw and Burleson ISDs to get Little Elm students to school. Jones said bus schedules should be back to normal this morning.
No school district reported a damage estimate as insurance adjusters made their way to the campuses Monday afternoon.
A few car dealerships along Interstate 35E on the Corinth/Denton border reported hail damage to their fleets.
Rick Wick, the general manager of Classic of Denton, said all of his 180 used vehicles and 850 of his 950 new vehicles showed signs of damage. He said although he didn't have an official damage estimate, the dealership will discount the vehicles that were hit by hail.
Wick said he went up to the dealership Monday night at about 10 p.m. after the storm passed and found tennis ball-sized hail still dotting the ground. Unfortunately, he said, there's not much he or his employees could do to shield the cars from the falling ice pellets.
"You just have to pray and keep your fingers crossed," he said.
More thunderstorms and potential threats of hail are on the horizon this week. The weather service's 10-day forecast shows a 70 percent chance of thunderstorms after 1 a.m. Wednesday. Those storms are likely to continue into Wednesday afternoon, said Juan Hernandez, a meteorologist at the national Weather Service in Fort Worth.
"It looks like hail and thunderstorm winds are the highest threats, but there's always a low potential for tornadoes," he said.
Hernandez said showers and thunderstorms are also expected this weekend.
JULIAN GILL can be reached at 940-566-6882.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881.
CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862.
HOW TO SELECT A ROOFER
Consumers should watch out for another kind of storm chaser in the next few days — contractor and roofing scammers.
The state of Texas doesn't require roofers to hold a license, so it can be difficult to evaluate a business you haven't worked with before. Start with the Better Business Bureau, as reputable contractors are usually members of this nonprofit consumer protection group. Look for the business name and grade on www.bbb.org.
Choose a local company that has been working in the area for at least a year or two in case problems with the repair emerge later and need prompt attention.
In addition, the Denton Police Department posted a reminder of common types of scams some roofing companies employ:
The "disappearing" down payment — In this scam, the contractor will require a "down payment" to obtain the materials needed to start the repairs. Once the contractor gets the payment, the contractor disappears with the money and no work is completed.
Door-to- door salespeople — These individuals will sometimes fabricate damage to the roof that may not be there in the first place. These people will also pressure the homeowner into signing a contact to repair the roof prior to the insurance adjuster inspecting the roof.
Storm chasers — These people follow storms and are usually in the devastated areas within hours of the storms passing. These people know how insurance companies work and typically figure out how to put on a "cheap" new roof that is not up to the quality of the original, and they don't always address other problems the roof may have. These people also leave after the job is finished and often can't be found for any repairs that may arise in the future.
High-pressure sales — People who use high-pressure sales tactics to have you sign a contract on the spot will often make dishonest and misleading claims. If the salesperson demands an immediate signature on a contract, then this is a red flag there may be problems in the future.
The "low bid" — Everyone likes a deal, but sometimes the "low bid" actually ends up costing more money in the long run. In this scam, the contractor will quote a bid that is much lower than the competition to gain the homeowner's business. Once the job begins, the contractor will find "unforeseen" problems and the costs will increase. Most reputable contractors will include a section in their contracts dealing with unexpected costs, particularly the roof decking that can't be inspected prior to the removal of the shingles.