Videos circulating online show ominous, funneling clouds over the skies of north-central Texas as tornadoes touch down and residents in neighboring states are being urged to take cover from dangerous weather sweeping the region.
As severe storms gathered over parts of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma Friday evening, regional offices of the National Weather Service (NWS) warned residents of tornadoes, some potentially deadly. Bystanders and storm chasers picked up cameras and captured the tornadoes approaching towns in Texas as well as the wreckage left behind.
The NWS put a tornado watch into effect for 21 counties in central and north Texas in the relative vicinity of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The service also issued tornado watches for parts of northwest and west-central Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma.
A thunderstorm is seen near Paducah, Texas, on May 10, 2017. A large portion of north-central Texas saw tornadoes and severe weather on Friday.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
The service issued a dire warning for Little River County in southwestern Arkansas and Central Bowie County in northeastern Texas, stating that residents should take cover after “a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado was located 9 miles southwest of New Boston, moving northeast at 50 mph.”
“You are in a life-threatening situation,” reads the warning. “Flying debris may be deadly to those caught without shelter. Mobile homes will be destroyed. Considerable damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles is likely and complete destruction is possible.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott earlier on Friday directed the state Division of Emergency Management to elevate the State Emergency Operations Center’s readiness level for the forecast of damaging winds, strong tornadoes, large hail and potential flash flooding, according to a press statement.
“State and local emergency response partners are monitoring weather conditions and are on standby to swiftly provide all necessary resources to protect our communities,” Abbott said in a statement. “Texans are urged to remain weather-aware and follow instructions from emergency responders and local officials to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”
Wes Rapaport, spokesman for the Texas Division of Emergency Management, told Newsweek in an email that state resources activated by Abbott earlier on Thursday were being used to help local officials. Rapaport did not provide information of the hazards residents face or the extent of the wreckage, but said Texans are encouraged to report any damage to homes and businesses using an online tool.
The Fort Worth office of the NWS said in a tweet that the tornado watch will expire at 8 p.m. local time and the threat from the weather will diminish as the cold front passes by, potentially leaving some small hail and gusty winds.
7:04 PM: The severe threat will be diminishing for most of the area as this line moves through. Could see some small hail and gusty winds, but we will clear out once the cold front moves through. Tornado Watch will expire at 8 PM. #dfwwx #ctxwx #txwx pic.twitter.com/aekTmC4Jiw