Wednesday, June 19, 2024 Jun 19, 2024
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Over Half a Million North Texans Without Power; Disaster Declaration Issued for Dallas County

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says it could be days until power is restored for a "significant" amount of Oncor customers. Happy Election Day.
An uprooted tree in Merriman Park Estates in East Dallas, near Skillman Street. More than 600,000 Oncor customers are without power following the May 28 storms.

This was last updated at 5 p.m.

The weather sirens worked. I was in the hall bathroom with my wife and cat a little before 7 a.m. once the wailing began and the wind screamed past our house in Oak Cliff. (It is probably very dumb that I initially thought the city was testing the sirens at an odd hour and tried to go back to bed.)

Some numbers: There were more than 622,000 people without power in North Texas as of noon. About 356,000 of those are in Dallas County, and the rest are pretty evenly split across Collin, Tarrant, and Denton counties. The total without power was down to 503,000 at 5 p.m.

The storm brought 80 mile-per-hour winds and golf ball-sized hail as it moved east across the metro area. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a disaster declaration after learning from Oncor that outages “for a significant number of customers” could last days. The city estimates that hundreds of traffic lights are out of commission.

“We did have a significant number of downed lines because of this weather event. In many cases, it’s not simple repairs. We’re looking at complete reconstruction for parts of our area,” said Grant Cruise, an Oncor spokesman. He added that crews from other cities and states are being directed to North Texas to help with the outages.

“This is not a generation problem like we sometimes have when it’s cold or in the heat of the summer,” Jenkins said during a press conference. “This is a broken lines problem brought about by straight-line winds.”

The storm began a little before 5 a.m. northwest of Dallas and began marching south, growing in intensity. A flash flood warning remains in effect but a severe thunderstorm warning expired at 11 a.m. It’s also Election Day for the primary runoffs, and Dallas County is warning of delays at some polling locations. Check the status here throughout the day. Jenkins said 103 polling places had lost power, leaving 180 operating across the county. (Voters can cast their ballot at any polling location in Dallas County.) The polls will remain open until 9 p.m. to adjust for the voting centers that could not operate.

The judge said county officials are investigating whether Carrollton Regional Medical Center had lost power, but added that all other hospitals had electricity.

Trees down in Eastwood Hills, near White Rock Lake. Stacy Klayman

“That gives you a feel also for just how damaged our power grid is here, our lines here in Dallas are,” Jenkins said.

Oncor will prioritize critical infrastructure before beginning repairs based on population density near the outages. Dallas Area Rapid Transit says its trains are delayed because of fallen tree limbs and other debris on the tracks. Buses are also delayed, and bus bridges have been established at the following rail stations:

  • Green Line between Deep Ellum and Victory stations, between Buckner and Hatcher stations, 
  • Orange Line between Lovers Lane and Victory stations, and Lovers Lane and Park Lane stations.
  • Red and Blue Line between 8th & Corinth and Lovers Lane stations
  • Blue Line between 8th & Corinth and EBJ/Union stations

The city operated its Outdoor Warning System—those sirens—in Far North, northeast, and southeast Dallas before expanding citywide. A tornado warning was in effect for Dallas County until 6:30 a.m., and Garland ISD canceled classes. Dallas ISD canceled all school-related activities. Superintendent Stephanie Elizalde said that 63 schools had lost power and that the district’s headquarters at 9400 N. Central Expressway had been “hit hard.” “We’ve got folks dealing with broken windows, flooding, and fallen trees,” she said on Twitter/X. DeSoto ISD delayed its start time by two hours because of power problems.

Storms will continue throughout the day, but the National Weather Service is mostly concerned about flash flooding. Winds are expected to pick up this afternoon and early evening. The rest of the week? More rain. But nothing as severe as this morning is in the forecast.


Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…