Gerry Gesell and Cecilia Steel stand in front of their tornado damaged home on the old Steen place on County Road 431. The couple was in the home when a tornado ripped the roof off shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 18th. They were miraculously uninjured inside the house that has been their home for the past eight years. Gerry is the ranch manager for JJB Lands, LLC. 
 --  KATHY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS
Gerry Gesell and Cecilia Steel stand in front of their tornado damaged home on the old Steen place on County Road 431. The couple was in the home when a tornado ripped the roof off shortly after 2 a.m. on Saturday, May 18th. They were miraculously uninjured inside the house that has been their home for the past eight years. Gerry is the ranch manager for JJB Lands, LLC. -- KATHY MANKIN | THE ELDORADO SUCCESS

A tornado took the roof off of a ranch house early Saturday morning in north central Schleicher County and another was indicated by radar early Tuesday morning in the northeastern corner of the county. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in either of the storms.

Gerry Gesell notified the Schleicher County Sheriff’s Department by phone at 2:14 a.m. on Saturday, May 18th, that a tornado had taken half the roof off his home. He advised that he and his partner Cecilia were the only ones home and they escaped without serious injury.

Schleicher County Deputy Jeremy Hayes was dispatched to the scene and found the couple unharmed at their home about a mile and a half south of the Tom Green County line. He also noted several utility poles were down on along County Road 431 and asked the Sheriff’s Office to notify Southwest Texas Electric Cooperative about the utility poles.

 

Gesell said that no warning had been issued for the storm but said they were watching the radar on their phone when the house’s front door blew open.

He went to close the door but the wind sucked it back open. Gesell said he went to close the door again when the tornado almost sucked him out of the house, but that’s when a wall caved in and pinned him inside, saving him from being carried out into the storm.

Gesell said he yelled, “Tornado!” in hopes that Cecila would take cover.

For her part, Cecilia said she got into a closet and hunkered down for protection. The whole thing was over in a matter of seconds.

Gesell said when the worst of the storm passed them by they noticed that the house’s roof was gone.

At that point he said he was walking around in the house in his sock feet. He noticed later that the soles of his feet were hurting and he realized he had been walking on broken glass. He said that later he had to remove some shards of glass from his back.

Gesell said that outside the home a cattle trailer was wrecked after it tumbled for several yards before crashing into a raised stock tank. A nearby barn was destroyed and a second, unoccupied house was damaged.

Miraculously, none of the catahoula puppies that the couple kept in a nearby kennel were harmed. Likewise, the horses or other ranch animals were in another pasture and were uninjured.

Gesell said that he called the National Weather Service in San Angelo to report the tornado but they didn’t seem interested. Perhaps that was because a large storm had dropped a tornado in San Angelo early Saturday morning.

Gesell told The Success on Tuesday that the home will be demolished.

It was later reported that several trees were down on neighboring ranches, including the West Ranch and the Gail Mittel Ranch, both south of Gesell’s damaged home.

The twister cut a swath about a 100-yards wide extending north-northwest from the Mittel place to the Gesell home and continuing into Tom Green County toward Duff Lane.

Hector Guerrero, a meteorologist with the San Angelo office of the National Weather Service, told The Success on Tuesday that he was unaware of the damage on CR 431, but estimated from a description of the damage that the tornado would have been rated EF2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

The same complex that produced the Schleicher County twister spawned a tornado near Dove Creek in Tom Green County and another in the northern porting of San Angelo. Both of those tornadoes have been estimated in the EF1 to EF2 range.

As the storm front continued eastward, thunderstorm cells tracked mainly from the southwest to the northeast up the face of the front. Those storms produced damaging tornadoes in Ballinger and Abilene.

ROUND TWO
A second round of violent storms threatened the county during the early morning hours on Tuesday. A Tornado Warning was issued for the northwest corner of the county at 1:39 a.m. after National Weather Service radar in San Angelo detected rotation in a line of storms that was pushing eastward across the county. The suspected tornado was not confirmed by storm spotters and the worst part of the storm moved quickly northward out of the county.

Meanwhile, the line of storms that brought violent weather to Reagan and Crockett Counties and spawned a tornado near Big Spring, continued to advance rapidly to the east but lost their intensity before reaching Eldorado. The storm that soaked areas west of here dropped only .05 inches of rain at Eldorado.

Monday night and early Tuesday morning’s storms were part of a greater weather complex along a frontal boundary that dropped hail on Lubbock. As the front pushed east, the storms developed southward into the Permian Basin and northward into the Texas Panhandle. At one time, there were four tornado warnings in and around Wellington in the eastern panhandle before the front moved eastward into Oklahoma were dozens of tornadoes were reported and flash flooding threatened lives and property in and around Oklahoma City.