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EVENING TORNADOES DEVASTATE DOWNTOWN FT. WORTH, TEXAS

TornadoMarch 29, 2000 — NOAA's National Weather Service tracked a line of severe thunderstorms through Texas overnight and warned many in the state of a several tornadoes including one that ravaged downtown Ft. Worth and parts of Arlington. The preliminary field survey estimates indicate the tornado was as strong as an F3 in areas.

According to the NWS Southern Region director Bill Proenza, at least two tornadoes struck the metropolitan area causing widespread damage in Tarrant County. "This could have been worse if the downtown area had been hit an hour earlier during the peak rush hour. Providing tornado warnings with 10 to 50 minutes lead time saved lives. However, we are still very fortunate the death toll isn't higher."

At 6:10 a.m. CST Tuesday morning, twelve hours before the tornado event, the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Fort Worth issued a hazardous weather outlook highlighting the threat of severe weather in the Fort Worth-Dallas area. Later in the afternoon at 2:53 p.m. CST, NOAA's Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch for a large area stretching from Oklahoma to central Texas. The NWS Forecast Office issued a severe thunderstorm warning for Tarrant County at 5:33 p.m. and upgraded it to a tornado warning at 6:10: p.m. CST, eight minutes before the tornado touchdown in the western section of downtown Fort Worth and 50 minutes before hitting the city of Arlington.

According to the Storm Prediction Center, over the last decade the United States has had an average of 1,200 tornadoes per year. Of the approximately 3,600 tornadoes since 1997, at least nine major metropolitan areas have been struck.

Miami Fla., May 12, 1997
Little Rock, Ark. 1/21/99
Salt Lake City 8/11/99
Birmingham, Ala. 4/8/98
Cincinnati 4/9/99
Milwaukee, Wis. 3/8/00
Nashville, Tenn. 4/16/98
Oklahoma City 5/3/99
Ft. Worth 3/28/00

More Information
The latest information on the tornadoes in Texas will be posted at the following Internet site as it becomes available: http://www.srh.noaa.gov (click on Ft. Worth). Additional information including tornado background information, and facts about deadly and destructive U.S. tornadoes can be found on the following Web page: http://www.outlook.noaa.gov/tornadoes. Satellite images will also be available on these Web pages.

Fugita Tornado Intensity Scale

NOAA Satellite Image of Storms

High-Resolution Satellite Images and Short Movie

NOAA Media Contacts:
Curtis Carey, NOAA's National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622

Tornado Research and Historical Perspective
NOAA's Storm Prediction Center

NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory
Keli Tarp, (405) 366-0451

Specifics About The Ft. Worth Tornado Outbreak
Ft. Worth, Texas, National Weather Service Southern Region Operations Center
(817) 978-1000 Bill Proenza, director