Severe storms and a tornado tore through the Dallas area on Sunday night, destroying local businesses and cutting power to around 65,000 people. The tornado was unusual for October, but it could be a sign of a new resiliency challenge for environment, health, and safety (EHS) leaders.
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado struck near Dallas Love Field Airport around 9 pm on Sunday evening, the Associated Press reported.
In the Lake Highlands neighborhood, the twister caused significant damage to a Central Market store and a Home Depot, CBS DFW reported. Reporter J.D. Miles posted a video on Twitter showing a Home Depot store on Forest and 75 in Dallas that had been destroyed by the storm. An employee later indicated to the Dallas Morning News that nobody was inside at the time.
Dallas Fire-Rescue told CBS DFW that one of its own stations had sustained significant damage. The roof of Station 41 was torn off, but none of the firefighters were hurt, according to the outlet.
Restaurants in the Preston-Royal area of Dallas closed after the tornado hit. “It looks like bombs went off,” Fish City Grill co-founder Bill Bayne told the Dallas Morning News.
America’s Tornado Alley Expands
Tornado scientist Harold Brooks of the National Severe Storms Laboratory said that tornadoes are not common in October — and that cities rarely get hit because they don’t have a big footprint in the tornado belt, according to the Associated Press. Unusual could become the norm for EHS management, though.
In May, Washington Post journalists Joel Achenbach and Jason Samenow reported that extreme weather had made “half of America look like Tornado Alley.”
Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, said she believes that there’s a climate change signal in the tornadoes occurring.
“The jet stream is the thing that creates and steers individual storms and also sets up large-scale patterns,” she said in the spring, according to the Post. “What we’re seeing now that’s so unusual is that the large-scale pattern, all the way from the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic is stuck.”
Earlier this year, the Week also reported on whether climate change could be a factor. “Tornadoes tend to form under very specific atmospheric conditions — wind shear, or differences in wind speeds and direction; atmospheric instability; and moisture all fuel storms — and there are reasons to believe climate change is making those conditions more likely,” Kate Wheeling wrote.