EVENING TORNADOES DEVASTATE DOWNTOWN FT. WORTH, TEXAS
March 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.
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