Mile-wide path of destruction left by East Texas twister

Van Zandt County tornado (KETK Photo)
Van Zandt County tornado (KETK Photo)

FORT WORTH (KETK/KXAN) — The National Weather Service has released a preliminary report on four tornadoes which touched down on Saturday in East Texas. One twister’s path of destruction was a mile wide.

A National Weather Service survey team began to survey the damage associated with at least four tornadoes that occurred in Henderson, Van Zandt, Rains and Hopkins Counties.

Four people died and dozens were injured by the severe storms and tornadoes. Fifty-six people were treated at three hospitals, according to the Associated Press.

The tornado that traveled from Henderson County to Hopkins County, known as the Log Cabin to Yantis Tornado, left a path of destruction that is a mile wide, slamming into the east side of the town of Canton. The tornado traveled for more than 50 miles and had peak winds of 130 miles per hour.

Two of the four tornadoes were given a preliminary EF-0 rating while the other two were long-tracked tornadoes with more significant damage, leading to at least EF-3 ratings. Several survey teams are on the road Monday continuing to assess the extent of the damage.

KXAN spent the day with neighbors turning their own hurt into hope for others.

“I just started praying, you know, ‘Lord protect them, Lord keep them safe, Lord protect them, Lord keep them safe,’ just over and over and over,” Vicki Shackleford said, praying for her daughter and her family who were in the path of the deadly tornado.

Shackleford’s daughter Laci McMahon, told KXAN, “We seen [sic] it coming up over the hill and it was just this big wall. It wasn’t like a funnel that you normally hear about. And so I just screamed we needed to leave.”

Though nearby homes received extensive damage or were level altogether, McMahon’s home only had some roof damage.

“I got a text from her and, she said ‘oh my God, mother, everything is blown away but our house,'” Shackleford said, clutching her heart. “This shows his power, but it also shows his protection.”

McMahon called the help from volunteers, family, friends, strangers and neighbors “unbelievable.”

“You gotta look at the good in all of it. Find like the amazing parts,” teenager Grady Hillhouse said, who was helping neighbors in the storm’s aftermath.

His friend, Joe Anderson lost his home in the tornado.

“We got it bad but some people, they don’t have anything, they lost everything they had,” he said.

National Weather Service details on the four tornadoes

Tornado #1 – Grand Saline Tornado

Rating: EF-0
Estimated Peak Wind: 80 mph
Path Length: 1.5 miles
Path Width: 100 yards
Injuries: 0
Start Time: 4:15 PM
End Time: 4:17 PM
Start Location: 5 SSW Grand Saline
End Location: 2 WSW Grand Saline
Summary: Damage to trees was observed.

Tornado #2 – East Canton #1 Tornado

Rating: EF-0
Estimated Peak Wind: 75 mph
Path Length /statute/: 2 miles
Path Width /maximum/: 75 yards
Injuries: N/A
Start Time: 5:10 PM CDT
End Time: 5:14 PM CDT
Start Location: 1 ESE Canton
End Location: 3 NE Canton
Summary: Tornado caused damaged to trees and barns just southeast of city center of Canton.

Tornado #3 – Eustace to West Canton Tornado

Rating: At least EF-3
Estimated Peak Wind: 145 mph
Path Length /statute/: 23.35 miles
Path Width /maximum/: 800 yards
Injuries: N/A
Start Time: 5:29 PM CDT
End Time: 06:09 PM CDT
Start Location: 2 SSE Eustace
End Location: 5 NNW Canton
Summary: Damage to four or five homes where exterior walls collapsed. Several cars and numerous manufactured homes were damaged in central part of this tornado’s path. More details will be surveyed on Monday.

Tornado #4 – Log Cabin to Yantis Tornado

Rating: EF3
Estimated Peak Wind: 130 mph
Path Length /statute/: 55.5 miles
Path Width /maximum/: 1760 yards
Injuries: N/A
Start Time: 5:41 PM CDT
End Time: 7:28 PM CDT
Start Location: 5 ENE Log Cabin (Henderson County)
End Location: 8 NW Yantis (Hopkins County)
Summary: Tornado will be known as mile wide tornado which slammed into east side of Canton. More damage to be surveyed tomorrow. It is not yet clear whether this 55 mile damage path (51 miles in a straight line) is indeed one tornado, or was caused by more than one. More details to come late Monday.

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