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2023 Dallas, Texas tornado
EF5 tornado
Tornado at peak strength at 4:12 pm.

Tornado at peak strength at 4:12 pm.
Date April 30, 2023
Times 1554-1643
Touchdown location 3:54 pm CDT
Highest winds

317 mph (highest ever recorded)

Injuries 2,100+
Fatalities 213
Damage $3.7 billion (2023 USD)
Areas affected Dallas suburbs
Part of the
2023 tornado season

The 2023 Dallas, Texas tornado was a catastrophic EF5-rated multiple-vortex tornado which affected the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, primarily the city of Dallas itself, late in the afternoon of Sunday, April 30, 2023. Touching down roughly three miles to the south of the Dallas city limits, the tornado tracked almost due north through the eastern half of the city, producing damage described as being of "extreme EF5" intensity, before continuing to the north of Dallas into Collin County and dissipating near Plano.

The tornado remained on the ground for 49 minutes over a 29.80-mile path, along which it caused 213 fatalities and more than 2,100 injuries. The tornado was rated EF5 without dispute; with the intensity of the damage in Dallas described as being "easily the most intense in the state of Texas since the Jarrell tornado of 1997". As the tornado crossed Interstate 45 in southeastern Dallas, a Doppler On Wheels truck recorded wind speeds of 317 miles per hour within one of the tornado's suction vortices; the highest wind velocity ever recorded on Earth. Ground-level wind speeds were estimated on the Enhanced Fujita scale to have been around 280 miles per hour. As a result of the record-breaking measurements, the tornado was described by the media as "the strongest ever recorded"; however, the National Weather Service disputed the label based on a lack of measurements of wind speeds in other violent tornadoes.

The Dallas tornado was the first EF5-rated tornado to directly strike the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as the first violent tornado in the area since the EF4 Garland, Texas tornado on December 26, 2015. The tornado's extensive media coverage effectively discredited the myth that large cities are "immune" to tornadoes. While downtown Dallas was only briefly grazed by the tornado's extreme outer flanks, high-rise buildings were lightly damaged, and a small area of EF2-level damage was observed to a three-story building in the downtown area. Prior to the tornado, many residents of metropolitan Dallas were largely oblivious to the risk.

Meteorological synopsis

2000Z Day 1 convective outlook on April 30.

On April 29, the Storm Prediction Center issued an enhanced risk of severe weather for northeastern and north-central Texas as well as central Oklahoma for April 30. The early morning Day 1 outlook on April 30 made little change to the previous forecast, but by the late morning, as it became more apparent that robust supercells were likely across Oklahoma and northern Texas later that afternoon, the Storm Prediction Center upgraded the area to a moderate risk. A 15% hatched risk of tornadoes – indicating a 15% chance of a tornado touchdown at any given location within the risk area – was issued, along with a 45% hatched risk of large hail and a 30% risk of damaging wind gusts. The 16:30 UTC (11:30 am CDT) Day 1 convective outlook mentioned the possibility of "several tornadoes, one or two of which could be strong".

The early morning hours of April 30 were humid and overcast across northern Texas, with low-laying stratus clouds and curtains of mist observed across the region. A brief but torrential downpour occurred between 8:45 and 9:15 am CDT over the Dallas-Fort Worth area. By 10:30 am CDT, the cloud cover lightened and began to break, allowing filtered sunlight to reach the surface and humid thermal updrafts rose into the sky. CAPE values skyrocketed to 3,650 J/kg just before noon; this coupled with the presence of strong directional wind shear prompted the Storm Prediction Center to issue a tornado watch for the Dallas-Fort Worth area with a 70% probability of one or more tornadoes, and a 50% probability of one or more strong (EF2 to EF5) tornadoes.

Between 12:30 and 1:30 pm CDT, six supercells developed in central Texas, and by 12:55 pm, the first tornado warning of the day was issued for Williamson and Bell Counties; however, no tornado touched down in the area. The first confirmed tornado touched down near Golinda at 1:17 pm and caused damage to several rural outbuildings; this tornado was rated EF1. The Golinda area tornado was followed minutes later by a larger, more intense tornado which partially collapsed the upper floor of a farmhouse near Perry and snapped and toppled several trees, earning a rating of EF2. Several other tornadoes touched down in Texas over the course of the afternoon; most were weak and relatively short-lived.

The Dallas tornado was produced by the second supercell to form, designated "Supercell B", which developed over Coryell County at 1:25 pm CDT. The supercell rapidly intensified after forming, and within fifteen minutes a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for areas in the storm's path; primarily western Bosque County. Hail up to 3 inches in diameter was observed in the Cranfills Gap area, resulting in one person being injured. Shortly after 1:50 pm, an area of tightening rotation was observed within the supercell's mesocyclone, and a tornado warning was issued. A small tornado touched down minutes later and caused moderate damage to trees in the Iredell area, earning an EF1 rating. This tornado was immediately followed by another weak tornado which remained over empty fields, producing no damage, and was rated EF0 as a result. Two more weak tornadoes were observed as the supercell continued northeast while still gaining strength. At 3:09 pm, a strong cone tornado touched down near Joshua, causing damage to frame houses, barns, small stores, and a warehouse; this tornado was rated EF2. As the supercell continued into the Dallas--Fort Worth Area, a Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) tornado warning was issued for Dallas, Arlington, Irving, Mannsfield, and Plano. Another EF0 tornado touched down over an empty field to the northwest of Midlothian at 3:44 pm. The seventh tornado produced by the supercell touched down ten minutes later, and was also initially weak, but gained strength very rapidly, becoming violent as it tracked through Dallas and remaining intense as it continued through Richardson and Plano before dissipating in Murphy.

Tornado summary

The Dallas tornado touched down over the Cedar Ridge Preserve to the west of Duncanville at 3:54 pm CDT. Initially weak, the tornado toppled several dozen trees immediately after touching down at EF1 intensity. The tornado tracked to the north-northeast at around 35 miles per hour, and soon crossed over residential areas to the north of the Mountain Creek Parkway. Houses in the area had their roofing severely stripped; one house had its roof entirely removed, and damage in the area was rated high-end EF1. Additional EF1 damage occurred as the tornado struck a shopping mall in the area, stripping away large sections of roofing, shifting several cars in the mall's parking lot, and bending a steel parking light pole. As the tornado moved towards Interstate 20, the ragged funnel became heavily rain-wrapped and began a period of rapid intensification. EF2 damage to several houses was observed near Camp Wisdom Road in northern Duncanville; a few of these houses had their roofs removed and top-floor exterior walls collapsed. Parked cars in the area were flipped and several mature trees were uprooted. Crossing Interstate 20, the tornado intensified further to EF3 strength, tossing three moving cars up to 95 yards from the highway, killing one man and injuring four other people.

The tornado tracking into Dallas at 4:01 pm.

The tornado then moved into the Dallas city limits, first tracking through the Redbird division. Houses in the tornado's path were mostly or completely demolished, with several only having portions of ground-floor interior walls left standing. Two large industrial buildings in the area, including a lumber company warehouse, had their roofs removed and some exterior walls knocked down as well. Additional trees in the Redbird division were uprooted, and several other cars were tossed. The tornado became violent soon past this point, completely leveling two large and well-built split-level houses on Ledbetter Drive; damage in this area was rated low-end EF4. Crossing over Glendale Park, the tornado snapped and debarked numerous hardwood trees in its path before weakening to EF3 strength as it continued into an adjacent neighborhood near Lancaster Road. Several houses were demolished, with only a staircase still standing at one house, a train station had its roof torn away and two walls collapsed, and Dallas Fire Station 25 lost the majority of its roof and one outer wall. Additional houses were severely damaged or demolished before the tornado regained EF4 intensity near Veterans Drive. Two small, brick churches in this area were demolished, along with a large portion of the Sarah Zumwalt Middle School, and several frame houses were leveled. Three houses in this area were cleanly swept away; however, the lack of any significant debarking of trees prevented damage in the area from being rated EF5.

Additional EF4 damage occurred at the intersection of Ledbetter Drive and Bonnie View Road, where a pizza shop, a dollar store, and a roller rink were completely flattened, and a Chinese restaurant and a small brick office building were demolished. Nine people were killed in this area, including six who attempted to take shelter in a walk-in freezer at the pizza shop.

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