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Tornado damage versus straight-line wind damage | WEATHER MINDS

Straight-line winds produced damage in South Texas on Friday when severe storms moved through.

SAN ANTONIO — The calendar shows January, but the weather brought spring-like storms to parts of South Texas last Friday.

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Storms moving through San Antonio Friday night

There were multiple wind, hail and damage reports across South Texas on Friday. Powerful wind gusts of 77 miles per hour blew through Stinson Airport before 8 p.m.

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Local storm reports in South Texas on Friday

As severe thunderstorms moved east, straight-line winds were the primary threat. There were no official reports of a tornado in South Texas on Friday.

There are differences in tornado and straight-line wind damage. Rotating winds associated with a tornado can cause debris to look chaotic and scattered in several directions. 

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Tornadoes are rated based on the intensity of the damage. Meteorologists use the Enhanced Fujita (EF) Scale, which is based on wind speeds and related damage. Tornado intensity can range from EF-0 to EF-5, with EF-5 being the strongest, bringing wind speeds over 200 miles per hour. 

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EF Scale

Straight-line winds are typically caused by a strong outflow from a thunderstorm downdraft. Straight-line wind damage will appear different when compared to tornado damage. Debris will lay in the same direction the wind is blowing, which is typically in one direction. 

It's important to seek shelter when tornadic weather or straight-line winds are occurring. They can both cause extensive damage to property and threaten lives. Lightning is also one of the biggest threats to any thunderstorm and should be taken seriously. When thunder roars, go indoors. 

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