UPDATE: After being closed Monday for storm cleanup, Hancock Park Golf Course reopened Tuesday morning. The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-2 level tornado touched down in eastern Lampasas County.
In just a few minutes, Lampasas’ hottest day of the year turned into a stormy Sunday evening with widespread wind damage. Wind gusts out of the north replaced steamy, muggy air, and rain came down in sheets.
After reports of a tornado near Copperas Cove the same evening, the National Weather Service conducted a preliminary survey on Monday to verify that a tornado did touch down.
On Sunday at 9:35 p.m., Copperas Cove Deputy Fire Chief and Emergency Management Coordinator Gary Young reported that 196 homes in the Big Divide area east of Kempner were damaged as a result of the storm. Three houses were deemed uninhabitable, and the residents have made arrangements to stay with friends, he said.
“No injuries have been reported as a result of the storm,” Young said. “No estimate of damages is available at this time.”
After topping out at 96 degrees, the temperature dropped to 72 before 6 p.m., according to a Lower Colorado River Authority weather station about 10 miles west of Lampasas. Power outages and tree limbs falling on power lines were reported across the county.
A tornado was reported near Copperas Cove and the southeast corner of Lampasas County at 5:28 p.m. as a fast-moving system blew in from the north.
The NWS Storm Center reported “golf-ball” to “ping-pong ball” size hail was observed in Lampasas, Hamilton, Llano and Williamson counties in the afternoon and evening, as well as numerous Texas counties into the night.
Photos from the Kempner area posted on social media show homes missing large sections of roofing and trees collapsed into roadways.
In an earlier news release, Young requested that those who do not live in the area refrain from visiting to view the damage due to roadway congestion issues.
Lampasas Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Chane Rascoe said Taylor Creek Elementary on Big Divide Road suffered only minimal damage.
“The wind blew one of the doors off of the access to the roof,” he said. “We had some rain on monitors stored in a closet.”
Rascoe said a few months before, storm winds blew over an air-conditioning unit at the school, but “we were very fortunate this time.”
Wind gusts were clocked at 68 mph in Hamilton at 4:42 p.m. and 78 mph in Llano County at 5:50 p.m., according to NWS storm spotters.
A massive pecan tree was blown over at a home on Western Street, where Christina Marez had just walked inside.
Seeing the storm move in, Marez had moved a pickup truck under the carport to avoid wind or hail damage. After taking a few steps into the kitchen, she heard a loud boom, then another boom. The tree landed on part of the roof and on a utility line.
The brunt of the storm passed through Lampasas within an hour or so.
No storm-related injuries were reported in the city.
“That’s the grace of God,” Marez said. “It could have been a lot worse. I’m grateful. This can be replaced.”
Lampasas Fire Department, Kempner Volunteer Fire Department and Lometa Volunteer Fire Department were dispatched to separate reports of sparking power lines, tree fires or other storm damage. The city of Lampasas Electric Department also had a busy evening.
The Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office reported that water was over a crossing on County Road 3600.
The Citizens Collection Center in Lampasas will be open this week for residents to dispose of storm-related debris at no charge. The collection center is located at 201 Brown St. For more information, call 512-556-8315.
Cool weather (for June) was expected Monday and today, with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s.