The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 16, 2013

Officials: Texas tornado likely had 200 mph winds

GRANBURY, Texas (AP) — Ten tornadoes touched down in several small communities in North Texas overnight, leaving at least six people dead, dozens injured and hundreds homeless. Emergency responders were still searching for missing people Thursday afternoon.

The National Weather Service gave a preliminary estimate of Wednesday night's violent system, saying a tornado in Granbury had wind speeds between 166 mph and 200 mph. Other tornadoes damaged nearby Cleburne and Millsap.

Granbury, about 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth, saw the worst of the damage, as the exceptionally powerful tornado tore through two neighborhoods around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Resident Elizabeth Tovar said fist-sized hail heralded the tornado's arrival and prompted her and her family to hide in their bathroom.

"We were all, like, hugging in the bathtub and that's when it started happening. I heard glass shattering and I knew my house was going," Tovar said, shaking her head. "We looked up and ... the whole ceiling was gone."

The NWS' preliminary storm estimate was an EF-4, based on the Fujita tornado damage scale. An EF-5 is the most severe. The powerful storm crushed buildings into piles of planks and rubble. Trees and debris were scattered across yards, and fences were flattened.

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds described the overnight hunt for bodies in Granbury.

"Some were found in houses. Some were found around houses," Deeds said. "There was a report that two of these people that they found were not even near their homes. So we're going to have to search the area out there."

Seven people remain unaccounted and authorities hope they are with family or friends, Deeds said at a Thursday morning news conference. Emergency responders were working to identify the six adult bodies that had been found, he said.

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