John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This image was taken right before a huge tornado hit the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, killing at least six people.
Last night, a savage weather system with strange properties – one witness described it as "bizarre" because its winds madly shifted directions – visited the towns surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth. Meteorologists have made a preliminary tally of 10 tornadoes spun out by the storm, a furious sky-lashing that killed at least six people and left others still missing.
Up in the silence of space, a U.S. government satellite watched the monster system as it moved over north Texas. The GOES-East spacecraft captured the above image around 7:45 p.m. – 21 minutes before the storm dropped a large twister on Granbury, which is located 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Here's a closer look:
The tornado reportedly measured as wide as a mile and had no trouble making splinters of what it touched in the community of roughly 8,000 souls. Violent winds ripped roofs off of houses and peppered the region with hail the size of golfballs and baseballs. Some homes were reduced to bald slates of concrete, like this Granbury property :
"Where do you hide if you're living here?" said a local man staring at one such empty foundation, according to the Dallas Morning News' account of the disaster. "How do you take cover there. There's nothing. There's no hiding. This tornado was a monster."
Top image courtesy of NOAA