Like a scene from the movie Twister, tractor-trailers were sent flying hundreds of feet into the air by a string of tornadoes that hit Dallas County and other nearby counties in northeast Texas yesterday.
One of those tornadoes unleashed its wrath on a Schneider National facility, throwing trailers hundreds of feet in the air and leaving damaged equipment in its wake.
According to MSNBC, Schneider said there were 254 tractors and 204 trailers at the facility when the tornado was hit. Sixty-five people work at the facility, with up to 300 drivers per day coming and going, the company told MSNBC.
In a statement posted to its Facebook page yesterday, Schneider reported all driver, office, maintenance and offsite associates in the area as being safe.
“There is no structural damage to the Dallas facilities; however, there has been massive damage to the yard. Damage to the yard has been shown on the news. The Operating Center is operating on backup power and phones have been redirected according to the emergency plans. Systems have not been impacted. Operations will be restricted until we are fully assessed.”
Schneider provided an update this morning, indicating that all workers are back at work this morning cleaning up. In all, approximately 100 pieces of equipment were damaged, the company said.
“We are thankful and relieved to report that all Schneider associates who were at our Dallas Operating Center when Tuesday’s tornado touched down are safe, accounted for and are back at work today. We are proud of our associates’ response to yesterday’s tornado; they received alerts of the storm and followed protocol by taking shelter,” the statement read. “Recovery efforts began Tuesday night and clean-up is proceeding quickly. Our Dallas associates are working hard to restore the facility to working order and to get back to doing what they do best: hauling freight for our customers.
“We are working with customers to transfer and redirect loads and freight impacted by the storm. The storm’s impact to freight, our customers and our operations overall appear to be minimal – a remarkable outcome in light of the force of the storm. Schneider National is grateful for the support and concern for our associates who work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Equipment and products can be replaced, people cannot.”
Several tornadoes struck the area on Tuesday, with two damaging Pilot Flying J facilities as well. Both facilities, the Pilot Travel Center at 8787 South Lancaster Road and the Flying J Travel Plaza at 7425 Bonnie View Road, suffered only minor damage, the company said in a statement.
A spokesperson said both centers are up and running and fuel is available.
“The Pilot Flying J family extends our thoughts and concern for any North Central Texas residents or visitors who were impacted by the tornadoes,” the company said.
Truck driver Michael Glennon was at the Flying J Truck Plaza when the tornado hit, telling Reuters that trucks and trailers were being tossed.
“The second trailer is ripped to pieces and thrown 50 to 100 ft. into the air,” he told Reuters.
The Associated Press reported the tornado south of Fort Worth caused “considerable damage” near Cleburne, and Dallas police reported visual confirmation from the southern part of the city.
There were no reports of fatalities from the storms, although dozens are reported injured.
A tornado passed near the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, according to CNN, while a second was sighted on the ground in downtown Dallas. All traffic from Dallas/Fort Worth Airport was stopped and area schools were secured for safety.
The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for eastern Hunt County, southwestern Delta County and West Central Hopkins County. A tornado warning was also issued for southwestern Collin County, northwestern Dallas County, southeastern Denton County and northeastern Tarrant County in north-central Texas.
The National Weather Service reported that storm spotters and Doppler radar observed a tornado located three miles northeast of Pantego moving northeast at 25 mph. The Euless and Irving areas were in the direct path.
Meteorologists also confirmed a “large and dangerous tornado” near Hutchins moving northwest at 30 mph. Other areas in the warning area included Balch Springs, Mesquite, Sunnyvale, Buckingham, Garland, Sachse, Rowlett and Richardson, according to the NWS.
This morning, Frank Billingsley, chief meteorologist for KPRC Local 2, estimated there were 18 tornadoes in all, with 15 reports of high winds over 70 mph. Some of the damage was likely caused by EF-3 tornadoes, KPRC meteorologist Anthony Yanez told MSNBC.
“From the looks of the video, it appears some of the damage was caused by EF-3 tornadoes. Getting an EF-3 in Texas is rare,” he said.
According to MSNBC, the Red Cross estimated 650 homes in North Texas suffered damage.