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Section A: General News


Severe storms wreak havoc




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Wilson County News
May 16, 2012 | 1,196 views | Post a comment

Residents report damage to structures, power outages, up to 10 inches of rain

The beautiful spring weather over Mother’s Day weekend may have erased for many the fury of last week’s storms, but some area residents are still recovering from damage caused by Mother Nature. Beginning May 6 and continuing through the week, much-needed rain swept through South Texas, but Mother Nature really unleashed her fury May 10, as storms dumped up to 10 inches of rain in some places, accompanied by hail, lightning, and wind bursts. Southern Wilson County was among the areas hit hard. Initial reports of road and culvert damage are estimated up to $2 million in Precinct 2; agricultural losses and damage to structures and dwellings continue to mount.

Jim Helmke, a member of the Skywarn Network of the National Weather Service, observed the storm and reported 3.57 inches of rain May 10. He observes and reports on tornadic activity, hail, and flooding.

Helmke explained after the storm, “The system that moved through ... was a combination of elements, all coming together at the same time to produce the severe system we had -- a stalled front, strong Gulf inflow (low-level jet) at the low levels, a cold, closed low sending impulses through the warm, moist (high dew point) air resulting in almost explosive lift, a turning of winds to the west/southwest at upper levels which create supercells that rotate and in the creation of these, rotating winds that eventually produce tornados and in our case torrential rains, large hail, and lightning.”

The severity of this storm, according to the National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office website, began around 9 a.m. in Maverick County with heavy rain. Wilson County reports started to pour in around 1:22 p.m., when the Stockdale Volunteer Fire Department fire chief reported roof and tree damage, and powerlines and power poles blown down south of Stockdale.

Reports of hail and wind damage were reported in the Kosciusko area at 1:25 p.m. The Emergency Management office reported flash flooding in Poth at 2:15 p.m., with 5 inches of rain reported, prompting the need for high-water rescues.

A possible tornado caused damage to Pruski’s Service Station in Kosciusko. Southbound traffic on S.H. 123 south of Kosciusko was blocked by a fallen tree.

Wilson County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator LeAnn Hosek said a funnel cloud was reported on C.R. 226.

Flowing water in some areas prompted road closures, and Wilson County Pct. 1 Commissioner Albert Gamez Jr. also reported that an elderly woman was rescued from her home on C.R. 146, after water entered the building.

The Poth Independent School District (ISD) advised buses would not run, due to some routes being impassable. The Stockdale ISD also took precautions, returning elementary students to the school from their buses when tornado warnings were issued, Superintendent Paul Darilek reported.

Assessing damage

The next day, National Weather Service and emergency management agency personnel, along with county commissioners, assessed the damage.

Hosek said May 11 that the most storm damage occurred in Precinct 2 -- from Poth to Kosciusko and southeast to the county line.

Rainfall reports varied, from 3 to 4 inches in Poth to reports of 8 to 10 inches in other areas. A number of structures, including homes and barns, sustained roof damage, Hosek said, and a mobile home on C.R. 230 lost siding and had windows broken. She said the Red Cross was providing assistance to those affected. No injuries were reported, Hosek said.

Wilson County Pct. 2 Commissioner Paul Pfeil, who accompanied Hosek and others to assess storm damage, reported $1.5 million to $2 million in road damage. This includes:

•A bridge washed out on C.R. 302

•Damaged bridges on Bentwood Drive and C.R. 210

•Debris in culverts

•Damage to county roads 225, 228, and 329.

According to Hosek, crops along F.M. 541, C.R. 252, and C.R. 234 were damaged, and a number of trees were downed.

Per Pfeil on May 14, C.R. 242 between F.M. 541 and C.R. 142 remained closed after being washed out during the storm.

Gamez reported May 14 that road damages in Precinct 1 are estimated at approximately $400,000. Damages include county roads 101, 103, 104, 105, 122, 107, and 112, he said.

Paul Yura, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, could not confirm if the damage at the Pruski Service Station in Kosciusko or downed trees and other damage were caused by a tornado. His initial report cited a “microburst” storm.

Pruski’s owner S.V. Pruski said May 11 that inventory at the service station got wet when the roof was displaced by the storm. Inventory was moved to the adjacent building, Pruski’s Seed & Fertilizer, which was not damaged. Pruski said they will remodel and reopen for business, including fuel sales, as soon as possible. Pruski Seed & Fertilizer reopened May 14, selling seed, fertilizer, and tires.

Area reports

Surrounding areas did not escape the May 10 storms.

Karnes County Sheriff David Jalufka reported Kenedy Elementary School buses did not run.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) closed F.M. 536 north at the Wilson and Atascosa county line, Pleasanton closed low-water crossings, and F.M. 1784 was closed in Atascosa County.

Also, a tornado was reported by the Texas Department of Public Safety 3 miles northwest of Hochheim in Gonzales County.

In Bexar County, as many as 17 roads were closed in and around San Antonio, due to flooding.

Reports of tornado sightings in Nell (Live Oak County) and near Nixon were unconfirmed.

Power outages

Power outages came with the storms. David McMillan, general manager of Floresville Electric Light & Power System, said the FELPS coverage area had “widespread outages as each wave of storms passed through,” due to downed trees, lightning causing blown fuses, and more.

The most damage and the largest number of customers without power were May 10 in the Kosciusko area, along S.H. 123 and F.M. 541, where approximately 500 customers were without power at the storm’s height, McMillan said.

“... I can assure you that the crews worked long and hard to restore every customer’s power quickly,” McMillan said.

Karnes Electric Cooperative also experienced “multiple problems on their circuit,” Line Superintendent Patrick Janysek said May 11. He said some power outages lasted as long as seven hours. Karnes County experienced high winds and a possible tornado.

What next?

Helmke said now that La Niña has waned, Texans can expect some changes in the weather.

“We can now expect more heavy rains, severe thunderstorms, and consequently, increasing hurricane activity over the next few seasons,” Helmke said. “The activity we experienced May 10 is expected to continue over the ensuing years.

“I always say, the weather does what it wants to, regardless of computer models, and all the newest technology,” he added. “Listen to the old-timers and their weather lore ... very often, they are right.”

reader@wcn-online.com
 

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