As federal and state authorities assess the damage Wednesday, they will also be looking at the effectiveness of the warning systems and procedures.The fact that these were daylight tornadoes may have helped.
The survival rate from a tornado is higher during the daylight hours because people are more likely to hear or see the warnings and take cover, meteorologists said. Twisters are most deadly when people are sleeping at night, they said.
One tornado lifted trucks like toys in the Flying J Truck Plaza in Dallas, said truck driver Michael Glennon, who caught the destruction on his video camera as debris swirled through the air.
"We've seen roofs blown off, houses totally flattened, tractor-trailers knocked over," Moore said.
Sixth-grader Hailey Pellerin said she and other students had just started lunch when teachers quickly herded students back to their classrooms in their southwest Arlington elementary school.
"We had to duck and cover for two hours," she said. The students were seated, lined up against a wall in their classrooms and covered their heads. "The power went out so it was dark and hot."
The tornado passed about 200 yards (180 meters) from the school, her father David Pellerin said.
"We were so lucky because it came so close but passed by the two schools my kids attend," said Pellerin, the father of three.
The National Weather Service is now testing a new tornado warning system – using stronger language and more graphic details about the potential effects. While the test was not used in Texas Tuesday, it is being tested in Kansas and Missouri. The National Weather Service is also trying to increase the amount of warning time before a tornado reaches an area.
US TORNADO SEASON STARTS EARLY