It can happen in an instant.
A mere chance of thunderstorms roils into North Texas, spawning multiple tornadoes, killing at least six people and injuring more than a hundred. An EF-4 tornado, based on the Enhanced Fujita scale of ranking tornadoes, tore apart businesses and homes in several communities, especially Granbury.
In almost the blink of an eye, the predicted rain turned into severe tornadic weather, strewing devastation as far as the eye could see.
While we were fortunate in Denton County, our neighbors to the south suffered substantially with loss of life, significant injuries and demolished homes and businesses.
Residents in Hood County saw a large tornado push through neighborhoods, overturning cars and demolishing homes, injuring many and taking the precious lives of a few family members.
The town of Granbury awoke Thursday to find homes flattened and search crews still looking for some residents who were reported missing.
Even after the late-evening storms ripped through Granbury and Cleburne, residents in Ennis had to cope with midnight storms that damaged more than 30 businesses in the downtown area.
This is why so many emergency responders repeatedly ask residents to stay alert whenever bad weather is in the forecast, even the slightest bit. Trained spotters, often emergency personnel, crisscross the region to watch the weather for signs of significant storms and feed their findings back to the National Weather Service. That is often how communities know when to start sirens to alert their residents to take cover.
Coupled with satellite feeds and a number of weather-related computer analytics, meteorologists look for patterns indicating possible tornadoes, strong winds and large hail.
On Wednesday night, North Texas experienced the rapid weather-changing trifecta of Gulf moisture, a dry line and a cold front coming together to create ripe conditions for tornadoes to develop.
It wasn’t anticipated. In fact, the first alerts didn’t begin until about 3 p.m. from the National Weather Service when personnel saw these weather elements begin to align.
The tragedy that ensued was unexpected and brutal. Photos now show what darkness hid Wednesday night. The devastation has left a mark in North Texas that only time will begin to heal.
So whether you stay tuned by radio, TV or on the Internet via news pages, the National Weather Service or even Facebook, it’s important to know when bad weather is heading your way and to be prepared.
You and your families’ lives may depend on it.