Funnel cloud reported, but no tornado touches down
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

April 29, 2005 - Hail and heavy rains rattled windows and roofs just after midnight when a storm front blew through Hopkins County.

Hail up to the size of golf balls was reported at Sulphur Springs Airport and one-inch diameter hail was reported in Birthright and on Houston Street near the State Highway 19 intersection. In downtown Sulphur Springs, pea- to marble-sized hail stones covered the ground and shredded leaves from trees and shrubs.

Gary Weatherall, warning coordinator meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Fort Worth, said the storm that rumbled through the county originated in Oklahoma and evolved into a severe thunderstorm as it moved toward Hopkins County.

"It was a rather long-lived super cell thunderstorm that actually had some large-scale rotation in it," he said. "One of the most important things [that rotation] does for the thunderstorm is it will dramatically strengthen the storm."

As the weather system moved through the county, emergency management centers received at least one report of a possible funnel cloud spotted along FM 1870. There were no reports, however, of a tornado touching ground.

The storm did produce winds that knocked down a large tree in the 200 block of South Moore Street. The downed tree blocked the street and also knocked down electric and utility wires as it fell.

The weather forecaster said the wind damage was most likely caused by downbursts.

"I think all the wind damage we had last night was attributed to downburst winds," he said. "The rotational winds associated with a super cell will also allow the storm to produce a lot of hail as well as downburst winds that can be responsible for considerable damage.

Frequent cloud-to-ground lightning in at least one instance struck a house in the 300 block of Weaver Street, resulting in a small fire that was quickly extinguished by firefighters.

The heavy rain, 2.45 inches, recorded at the city's water treatment facility on Hillcrest Drive, brought April's rainfall total to 4.46 inches, more than a half-inch above the monthly average.

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