On May 14, 2021, a catastrophic tornado produced widespread, cataclysmic damage in the communities of Arlington, Grand Prarie, and Dallas. The Arlington-Grand Prairie-Dallas Tornado is considered the deadliest and most destructive tornado in the world. The tornado became known for further proving the belief that a maximum rating of 5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale was insufficient, and the belief that the Storm Prediction Center's "High Risk" also was insufficient, because of the tornado's extreme destruction of above-ground safe rooms.
|Significant EF-5; A higher rating is in discussion|
A camera's final picture of the Tri-County tornado before getting hit by the tornado
|Date||May 14, 2021|
|Times||3:30 PM to 7:15 PM|
|Touchdown location||Arlington, Texas at 3:30 PM|
Up to 330 MPH
|Damage||Over $28 billion (2021 USD)|
|Areas affected||Arlington, Grand Prairie, and Dallas, Texas|
|Part of the|
2021 Tornado Season
On May 14, 2021, the Storm Prediction Center issued its Day 1 Convective outlook. The outlook suggested a high risk for severe storms and tornadoes within the Fort Worth and Dallas regions of Texas. However, residents of the area noted a hatched area within the High Risk zone indicated in the map. The very same thing appeared within the SPC's Day 1 Tornado Probability, a hatched area within the highest probability zone. The Storm Prediction Center stated that they have maxed out the probability for severe storms and tornadoes at 60%, meaning they were required to create a new impromptu risk zone for this special outlook. This new risk zone was named "EXTREME RISK".
Viewers of this outlook had great concern, as nobody knew what outcome would appear in an "Extreme Risk". Around 11:17 AM, storms started appearing around the Arlington area. They almost immediately exploded into supercells and the National Weather Service issued a PDS Tornado Watch for all High Risk areas and a Tornado Warning for areas affected by the supercells. A few hours later, at around 3:30 PM, a tornado was confirmed in central Arlington. This tornado very quickly became severe, and Arlington and small parts of counties east of it were put under a PDS Tornado Warning. Meterorologists noted several other smaller supercells forming around the main cell with the significant tornado. Around 4:55 PM, the other supercells, located in Ellis, Hill and Johnson counties were tornado warned as a funnel cloud was spotted near Caddo Mills, Texas. A few minutes later, the counties of Erath, Hood and Somervill were also tornado warned. Severe storms grew and continued north of the tornado-warned areas. Around 5:15 PM, Glen Rose, Texas was placed under a tornado emergency a few minutes later. The tornado had not peaked yet, but it was incredibly strong and headed straight for the area. Around 5:15 PM, Fort Worth was put under a tornado warning. 15 minutes later, emergency management reported a multiple vortex tornado in east Fort Worth. Subsequently, downtown Dallas County was put under a Tornado Emergency. Around this time, the tornado reached peak wind speeds of around 330 miles an hour, breaking several world records. KLNS news channel received reports that ground-level safe rooms had been severely damaged or destroyed. As the anchors had noted, this had never happened in world history. They also noted the NWS's bulletin for the tornado emergency, them stating that the event was a "possible mass-casualty situation". Arlington Police officer Dave Wilcox described the damage done to Arlington and Grand Prarie as "beyond destruction", going as far as to name it "apocalyptic". Statements like this meant that the tornado had already broken several records, and that worse was to come for downtown Dallas. Wilcox also reported that not even clean slabs were spotted within Arlington, and that underground plumbing and cables were ripped out. This paved the way for strong belief that a 6th rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale was necessary. Tornado warnings were issued for Rockwall and Kaufman counties around a minute later.
KLNS received a photo from Grand Prairie traffic cameras of the incredibly large tornado, seconds before the camera was destroyed. This image brought fear and horror to many citizens in downtown Dallas. Base reflectivity radar had identified that the hook echo located within the main tornado's supercell was starting to merge with a storm south of it. This led to the tornado's rotation becoming so incredibly violent, the National Weather Service was about ready to create an impromptu EF-6 rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. KLNS was right in the path of this tornado, and moments after the Grand Prairie traffic camera image was shown live, all station personnel had to evacuate into the building's underground safe room. Around 5:56 PM, a tornado emergency was issued for the eastern part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, the NWS stating that the situation was "dangerous" and "life-threatening". This was mostly the end of data available to the general public, due to buildings where data could be found being completely destroyed. Nothing could be reported until around 7:15 PM that day, when the tornado threat mostly diminished. Emergency television services were back online.
Around this time, the President gave an audio-only speech around this event on live TV. The Arlington-Grand Prairie-Dallas tornado went down as the deadliest and most destructive tornado worldwide, having produced 1,387 deaths and more than 73,000 injuries. The National Weather Service cancelled the event of an impromptu EF-6 rating on the EF-scale, but they were under discussion of a 6th rating being permanently added. At the same time, the Storm Prediction Center considered making an "Extreme Risk" permanent to express the full danger of such an outbreak.
Emergency personnel were unable to reach large portions of the Dallas metropolitan area following the tornado, with road networks being covered in heavy debris.
Large portions of the Dallas metropolitan area were destroyed. The Mercantille building collapsed in high winds, leading to the deaths of 200 people. Only the skeleton foundations of many skyscrapers were left standing.
Communication networks in the Dallas metro collapsed in the aftermath of the event. As such, initial data and observations from the tornado's immediate aftermath took substantial amounts of time to come in. KLNS correspondent Patty Wilkerson earned acclaim for her coverage of the tornado's damage, describing the damage in the Avigon Vilage apartments as "the epicenter of a nuclear blast".
Inspired by studioQ's "EF-6" EAS scenario