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TORNADO NOT CONFIRMED…
ROOFS DAMAGED IN DILLEY, STREETS AWASH IN ALL TOWNS
A storm cell moving northwest on Monday afternoon, May 15, may have dropped as much as six inches of rain in parts of Frio County, causing flash flooding and bringing high winds that developed into funnel clouds.
The county sheriff’s office issued a ‘shelter in place’ advisory when the the low-pressure system swept across the county around 4 p.m. Monday and a funnel cloud was spotted near the FM 117 and IH-35 intersection at Dilley.
Dilley volunteer firefighters reported seeing the funnel cloud touch down near Millie’s Mexican Restaurant on the interstate access road. Further damage to the roof of a motel and debris deposited beside the interstate were indicative of high winds commonly associated with tornadic weather.
The National Weather Service has yet to confirm whether the funnel cloud developed into a tornado. The service identifies a tornado as a violently rotating column of air that comes into contact with the ground, usually descending from the base of a severe thunderstorm.
The quick and intense rainfall caused streets to turn into rivers, making several roadways impassable. Authorities barricaded several city streets and county roads to prevent drivers from becoming stranded in high water and needing rescue.
According to the sheriff’s office, over four feet of water was reported along Hugo Road in Dilley.
The National Weather Service indicates that the largest tornado to hit the rural community came in at a strength of F4 (Fujita scale) in 1973 and caused 12 injuries and five deaths. An F4 tornado is identified by wind speeds in excess of 166 miles per hour, while an F1 tornado carries winds of 65 to 100 miles per hour. Modern-day tornado strength measurements have been the standard in the United States since 2007.
Severe weather also affected La Salle County on Monday night, and the sheriff’s office indicated the following day that two funnel clouds had been witnessed west of the interstate near Gardendale, although no severe damage has been reported. Sheriff Anthony Zertuche said on Tuesday that much of the rain-related flooding on city and county roads had subsided within hours.