National Weather Service upgrades Rusk tornado to EF-2

National Weather Service upgrades Rusk tornado to EF-2

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - An EF-2 tornado struck the city of Rusk on Tuesday night, according to the National Weather Service.

Wednesday afternoon the NWS increased the rating from an EF-1 to EF-2.

Crews found during a preliminary survey that "a severe thunderstorm moved east across Cherokee county on the evening of Dec. 19, producing strong winds and an isolated tornado just south of the community of Rusk. The damage across the county consisted of downed trees and concrete power poles, and structural damage to outbuildings and roofs."

"We had some very warm weather for this time of year, so we had a lot of moisture in the air," said NWS meteorologist, Mario Valverde. "And, we had a bunch of thunderstorms going off last night. This storm was on the boundary which started developing. This one produced a tornado here."

An EF-2 has strong winds that travel 111 mph to 135 mph, as classified by the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

Crews found concrete power poles snapped, roof damage, a destroyed outbuilding and uprooted trees.

"We're looking for what you call a convergent damage pattern," said Valverde. "So, damage on one side of the path is going to be towards the center of the tornado, and, on the other side of the path, it's going to be in towards the side of the tornado. So, the damage will be coming together."

According to the survey, the tornado had peak winds of 115 mph and traveled 3.1 miles and was 691 yards wide.

"For straight-line winds, you're going to have a divergent damage pattern," said Valverde. "The winds are going to be hitting the ground and everything's going to spread out in one direction. So, everything's going to be going to the northwest."

The tornado touched down at 6:53 p.m. about 4.8 miles southwest of Rusk and ended at 7:06 p.m. about 2.32 miles south of Rusk.

Rusk Independent School District also canceled classes at Rusk Elementary School due to flooding in the second-grade hall area. However, the school will reopen on Thursday, the school confirmed on Facebook.

NWS crews were surveying damages throughout the day in Cherokee and Rusk counties after storms moved through the area Tuesday evening. NWS crews started is Rusk and travel toward Reklaw today, which they say is the same path the storm took.

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