4:35 p.m. It's official. A tornado hit western Copperas Cove on Sunday - and it was an EF2 with peak wind speeds of about 115 mph, said Tom Bradshaw, meteorologist in charge at the Fort Worth Office of the National Weather Service. The path was a mile long.
The information was provided by Cove Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young, who said officials from the weather service toured the area affected by the storm for two hours on Monday. evaluating evidence of windspeed and direction and the impacts that it had on property, trees and the like.
The path of the tornado stretched almost one mile in length with damage noted to homes and property on either side of the path. The damaged property count remains at 198 and no injuries were reported as a result of this storm, Young said.
Young also said no volunteers nor donations were needed: "We have been inundated with offers for assistance, donations and other support. Right now we do not have any needs for volunteers or any donations. Please feel free to pass along thoughts, prayers and positive words to all who have been involved."
1:07 p.m. Brian Dosa, Fort Hood's Director of Public Works, said there was no storm damage on Fort Hood. As the storm was over quickly, there was also no need to close any low water crossings on post. We did have several power outages, but they all were restored last night," Dosa said.
12:10 p.m. Lampasas City Manager Finley deGraffenried provided this assessment of storm damage in the city: "With some exception, damage to the City was generally minimal. The City did experience downed trees and limbs, some of which resulted in isolated power outages affecting approximately 30 residents. Power was mostly restored within 2 hours of the storm passing. About six homes and businesses that have damaged or ruptured electric service drops due to limbs on the property owner’s side will require repair by an electrician prior to reconnection by the City. The City Street Department was called out to remove debris from roadways and limbs cut by the electric department, however; was only needed for approximately three hours last night.
"One home suffered damage at the corner of 2nd and Western Street when a large pecan tree fell into the home causing roof and electric service damage. At this time I am not aware of any other damage to homes. There was also damage to one billboard on Key Avenue at the intersection of Sulphur Creek."
11:45 a.m. Save a Pet shelter in Copperas Cove lost cages and animals, said Victoria Killebrew, who helps with the shelter. She said the group's organizer, Brittany Weimert, has several cages at her home when the area was damaged in the storm. Weimert was out looking for some 40 missing animals that included birds, dogs and cats. The birds had been at the shelter because they were unable to survive on their own, Killebrew said.
11:30 a.m. Sonya Brend of rural Kempner said Sunday's storm sent the family scurrying out of the pool into the house. She sent her four children, three grandchildren and two foster children into the house and into the closet. "I gave them dessert. They ate the dessert in the closet." None of the family members were hurt but the animals were traumatized, she said. "I watched my barn peel like a banana," she said. She also saw a tree pulled straight out of the ground. Her 13-acre property was littered with debris, including the tongue from a mobile home somewhere else, she said.
11:10 a.m. Kempner reports Sylvia Tucker Memorial Park's playground, bathrooms and walking trail will be closed due to downed trees.
10:15 a.m. Residents were still out cleaning up debris from Sunday's storm. The strong storm uprooted several large trees, flattened street signs that were bent from the bottom, ripped shingles off roofs. Some houses were damaged more severely. Damage stretched from approximately half a mile north on Big Divide Road with the worst damage near the intersection of Grimes Crossing Road and Big Divide Road. Other streets with significant damage were Logsdon Street, Colorado Drive and Taylor Creek Road.
Cove resident Erasmus Julien, who lives near the intersection of Talley Circle and Colorado Drive said his house sustained no damage, but he had damage to his fence, trees and shed.
"The sun was out, and then all of a sudden a wind came in, it got dark, the lights went off, and once the lights got off then the wind started blowing," he said of the experience. "We just rushed into the nearest bathroom that's, you know, not near a window, and then I came out to check and all I saw is debris flying everywhere."
Another resident, Julie Schwyhart said her house sustained damage to the roof, the fence and her camper in the back yard blew over. A big chunk of metal roof from a house down the road blew into her yard. She said she and her children ran to the middle of the house when the storm was coming through.
"I don't know how to describe it," Schwyhart said of the sound.
The community response was quick, however.
Julien said everybody came out of their house to assess the damage and check on each other after the storm had passed.
Schwyhart said she had friends come from as far as Moody and Gatesville to help her tarp her roof.
The tarp was purchased at HomeBase in Copperas Cove. HomeBase normally closes at 6 p.m. on Sundays but reopened from approximately 7:30 to 10 p.m. to help those affected by the storm, a manager said.
10 a.m. 198 homes and property were affected by Sunday's storm, said Deputy Fire Chief Gary Young. The total number of homes with damage severe enough to displace the residents remained at three. Those who were displaced are staying with friends and relatives or made other arrangements on their own. Power service was restored Sunday night to all residents in the Big Divide area.
9:40 a.m. The National Weather Service assessment team is en route to Copperas Cove, said Meteorologist Joey Picca. Radar Sunday had indicated a possible tornado on the western side of Copperas Cove but it has not been officially confirmed. The team will look at the damage and the path of the damage, he said. Damage in Lampasas was likely caused by straight-line winds, he said.
8:40 a.m. Lampasas residents are cleaning up after the storm that occurred on Sunday. The City of Lampasas is opening up the Citizen Collection Center this week for residents at no charge for storm related debris. Citizen Collection Center is located at 201 Brown St. in Lampasas. For more information, contact 512-556-8315.
8:15 a.m. The Lampasas Hancock Park Golf Course is closed until further notice for clean-up, limb/debris removal, Lampasas officials announced. For more information, contact the Golf Pro Shop 512-556-3202.
The number of Copperas Cove area homes damaged as a result of the storm is now at 196 homes in the Big Divide area, with three being uninhabitable, said Gary D. Young, the city's deputy fire chief.
No injuries were reported as a result of the storm, Young said late Sunday. The residents from the uninhabitable homes have made other arrangements to stay with family and friends.
"Bottom line, no one was hurt, some property was damaged and generally we are all okay," said Young, who also is the emergency management coordinator.
Several homes were without power but the power company was working to restore power, he said Sunday.
No estimate of damage was available at this time.
"The residents in the affected area have worked well helping their neighbors with needed immediate cleanup and checking to make sure that everyone was ok," Young said in a news release late Sunday.
"As soon as the National Weather Service issued weather warnings for the area, notifications were sent out by CodeRed to residents in the area so that they could be prepared for the storm as it approached.
The National Weather Service said it would send a team to investigate indications that a tornado touched down about just after 5 p.m. They said they should have more information available after they send someone out to assess the aftermath today.
Resident reported tornado
“I actually saw it hit,” Copperas Cove resident Cheryl Julien said Sunday evening. “I was cleaning the window when I saw it touch down (north of us). I yelled at my family to get into the bathroom because there was a tornado coming.”
Julien lives on Colorado Drive in Copperas Cove, which is off Big Divide Road west of the city. Traveling northbound on Big Divide Road, houses exhibited more and more signs of damage the further residents drove. While Julien’s main house appeared to suffer only small amounts of damage, a shed in her backyard had fallen through her fence. Her neighbor’s trampoline was also drapped across her fence.
“I’m a nurse, so I got outside to see if anyone needed help,” she said.
Before the storm hit, temperatures had been high throughout the day Sunday. The temperature reached a high of 97 in Killeen.
Low rain and thunderstorm chances remain in the area into late Tuesday night. A high of 79 is expected today and a high of 82 for Tuesday.
Temperatures start to climb back up into the mid-80s by the middle of the week. The forecast called for dry conditions for Father’s Day weekend.
Herald staff members Artie Phillips, Thaddeus Imerman and Rose Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.