Storms Bring Rain, Hail to Parts of Texas

May 1, 2006

Storms battered parts of Texas with wind up to 100 mph and hail the size of baseballs Saturday, damaging buildings and slamming parked airplanes into one another at an airport.

No serious injuries were reported, but two horses were killed when what appeared to be a tornado swept through a Waco ranch and flattened some barns and a two-story home. At least six other horses – all belonging to Baylor University’s equestrian program – were injured, the school said.

“When you have winds from 80 to 100 mph it can do damage similar to that of a tornado,” said Jesse Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “That can do some very, very big damage.”

Just south of the Oklahoma border in Gainesville, wind and hail broke windows and ripped roofs on houses, said city spokeswoman Kay Lunnon. Some areas were still without power late Saturday.

Forecasters said the city has more than three inches of rain.

At the Gainesville Municipal Airport, hangars were damaged and private planes that were outside were pushed into each other by the high winds, said airport director Matt Quick.

“They were basically just blown into each other,” he said.

Quick said about 15 planes were damaged at the airport, where about 70 aircraft are housed.

In Waco, Baylor University freshman Shelby White was in her bedroom and about to go to bed when the wind began pounding her family’s house. White’s mother, Ellen, is the coach of Baylor’s equestrian program and was taking care of the team’s horses until construction on the school’s equestrian center was complete.

“I dove in the back corner of my room and all the walls collapsed,” White said. “When the window shattered, I thought we had a really strong wind. But when the wall started collapsing, I didn’t know what to think.”

The National Weather Service said that while a tornado was briefly spotted around Waco, straight-line winds upward of 70 mph probably did most of the damage.

Officials also reported wind-damaged homes and felled trees in San Jacinto and Liberty Counties, around Houston.

There was some street flooding in the Houston area but no serious damage was reported. About 4,000 customers in the Houston area lost power during the storm, said officials with CenterPoint Energy.

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