May 5, 1995 Storm Chase Report

Damaging Hail Storm in Tarrant County and Flash Flooding in Dallas County, Texas

At the time, this was the most damaging hail storms to ever hit the United States occurred in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Texas on May 5, 1995. A supercell thunderstorm formed ahead of a severe squall line and moved into Fort Worth just before merging with the squall line. Thousands of citizens were caught outside at the annual Mayfest celebration.  Injuries caused by the storm included broken bones, lacerations and deep bruises. More than 1.5 billion dollars of property damage resulted.

After merging with the squall line, the storm evolved from a classic to an HP supercell configuration.  The supercell updraft, which had been on the southwest flank of the storm, moved to the forward flank on the east side of the of the heavy precipitation core.   The storm also slowed down as it moved from Tarrant into Dallas County and produced torrential rains, resulting in flash flooding and multiple fatalities.

The Dallas and Tarrant County RACES SKYWARN nets provided life saving information to area governments and to the National Weather Service.  I participated in the Dallas County net that night and while making reports to the net also shot video of the event. Selected video stills follow, in chronological order from several  spotting locations, starting on the west side of Dallas and ending on the east side of Dallas County, in the cities of Mesquite and Garland, Texas.

Take note of how lightning may be used as a tool to spot severe weather features at night.

Looking west at a lightning illuminated wall cloud that was located over Grand Prairie, between Dallas and Fort Worth.  This was the core of the forward flank HP updraft that produced the flooding rains in Dallas County that night.  The large hail had already fallen at Mayfest in Tarrant County when this image was made.

Looking west from the intersection of Loop 12 and Illinois Avenue as the low ragged wall cloud.  The wall cloud was on the east flank of a large high precipitation (HP) supercell thunderstorm.  I left this site immediately after shooting this image and drove south on Loop 12 to LBJ / IH-20 and east to escape the monster hail, which I expected to occur east and northeast of the wall cloud.  The only other escape route would have been north several miles on Loop 12 into the hail core, then east on I-30.
Looking NNW from the intersection of I-30 and Northwest Avenue in Mesquite at a lightning strike accompanied by a transformer explosion which produced the bright blue-green flashes shown below.
These spectacular flashes, when not preceded by lightning, may indicate either straight line or tornadic wind damage. In this case however, they were caused by lightning.
Flash flooding in Garland, Texas at the intersection of First and Centerville, adjacent to Duck Creek.  I never cease to be amazed by people who will drive into water that is deep enough to float their car.  The car located just right of center in the image, with both headlights visible, had stalled and was repeatedly rocked back and forth by wake waves as other cars were driven past.
A Garland Fire Department truck carefully  drove through the intersection while enroute to an emergency call.
The next morning, I drove to Forth Worth to video the hail damage. What looks like a lunar landscape is actually a close-up of a car windshield that was destroyed by monster hail in the KXAS-TV, Channel 5, parking lot.
Razor sharp glass splinters littered the dashboard and seats.
The giant hale put large dents in the sheet metal hood of this car.
High winds combined with the shear size and weight of the hailstones produced enough momentum to drive the hail completely through the back window of this compact station wagon.
Close-up of the back window pictured above.

The windshield of this car was beaten so badly that it looked like someone had taken a baseball bat to it.

The headlamps didn't fair any better than the windshield on this car.
Windows, screens and window shades of the KXAS building were all penetrated by the monster hail.
The giant hail removed grass and left craters in the ground. This crater measured about 4 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep.
More broken windows in the KXAS-TV building.
Another car with a broken windshield.  The plastic grill had been shattered and was scattered about on the ground in pieces.
In a nearby neighborhood two blocks east of the TV station, the cars didn't fair any better.
This car had several holes in the back window.
The hail stripped leaves from trees in the same area.   A resident was seen cleaning up after the storm.
Leaves stripped from the trees by hail carpeted this street.
The hail heavily damaged the plastic siding on this home.

Copyright 1995 - Samuel D. Barricklow - All rights reserved.

Video of this event is available through Storm Stock

These images were made using a Canon A1 Digital Hi-8 video camera and were digitized using a Snappy box.

Last revised: November 30, 2008

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