With tornado memories fresh, new threat has some area residents on edge

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(KWTX) Central Texas residents were again keeping an anxious watch on the weather Wednesday, just days after a storm that produced a powerful and destructive tornado on Saturday that destroyed homes, churches and businesses in Franklin.




A severe thunderstorm watch was in effect until 2 a.m. Thursday that includes Bosque, Hamilton, Hill, Lampasas and Mills counties.

Threats include golf ball to tennis ball size hail, strong winds as high as 60 to 70 miles per hour, isolated tornadoes and localized flooding, forecasters say.

An approaching cold should spark a new line of thunderstorms Wednesday night into the early morning hours on Thursday, the primary threat from which will be straight-line winds.

Hail and isolated tornadoes are also possible and flooding is a concern.

Afternoon storms will be isolated and coverage is estimated at about 30 percent.

Rain chances jump to 90 percent Wednesday night.

Rain is possible through the morning hours Thursday, but Thursday afternoon should be partly sunny with highs around 70.

The National Storm Prediction Center says the front that stretches from southern Texas to central Kansas will create a risk of bad weather Wednesday as far east as Louisiana.

The threat moves into the Deep South on Thursday.

Forecasters say there will be an enhanced risk of storms including tornadoes from the Louisiana Gulf Coast as far north as northern Mississippi and Alabama.

Some 40 million people could see storms.

The National Weather service says at least 41 tornadoes struck from eastern Texas to Georgia just days ago, fifteen of them in Mississippi.

Tornadoes touched down Saturday not only in Franklin, but also southeast of Jewett in Leon County and east of Mumford in southern Robertson County, the National Weather Service says.

The EF-3 tornado that struck Franklin formed at 10:50 a.m. Saturday just west of the Brazos River in western Milam County six miles northwest of Hearne and cut an almost 33-mile-long path before dissipating after almost an hour.

The tornado moved to the east-northeast, crossing U.S. Highway 6 about 4 ½ miles north of Hearne.

EF-1 damage was found at one structure near the spot where the tornado crossed the highway along with considerable tree damage.

The tornado then headed east-northeast to Franklin where the most significant damage, consistent with an EF-3 storm, occurred along a two-block corridor on the south side of the town.

Damage to other structures on the south side of Franklin was consistent with EF-1 and EF-2 tornadoes.

The tornado destroyed 55 homes, two churches, four businesses, a food pantry, a duplex and part of the local housing authority building on the south side of Franklin, causing an estimated $3.8 million in damage.

More than a dozen people were injured, but none of the injuries was believed to be life-threatening.

Just two were hospitalized.

No deaths were reported.

From Franklin, the tornado headed east-northeast along U.S. Highway 79, crossing the Navasota River and entering far western Leon County, leaving snapped tree trunks and branches in its wake consistent with EF-0 intensity, before dissipating at 11:45 a.m. four miles south-southwest of Marquez.

The tornado traveled 32.63 miles with a maximum width of 250 yards and had peak winds of 140 miles per hour when it struck Franklin.

The second tornado, rated EF-1 with maximum winds of 100 miles per hour, was spawned by the same supercell thunderstorm that produced the Franklin tornado.

It formed at 12:12 p.m. Saturday four miles east of Buffalo in Leon County and traveled about 11 miles with a maximum width of 150 yards, crossing Interstate 45 about five miles south of Buffalo, before dissipating at 12:19 p.m. three miles southeast of Jewett.

The third tornado, an EF-0 with maximum winds of 85 miles per hour, was confirmed from videos taken east of Mumford in southern Robertson County.

The weak tornado formed at 11:14 a.m. ten miles south-southeast of Hearne and traveled just more than 8 miles with a maximum width of 50 yards before dissipating at 11.19 a.m. nine miles south-southeast of Hearne.

The tornado’s path was across open farmland and no structures were damaged.