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800 homes hit in Dallas area during 'very unusual' tornado season

Massive tornadoes ripped through the Dallas-Fort Worth area Tuesday, sending 18-wheelers into the air and damaging about 650 homes. NBC's Lester Holt reports.

As experts assessed reports that up to 18 tornadoes hit the Dallas area on Tuesday, the cleanup and rebuilding began Wednesday for -thousands of residents from the more than 800 homes destroyed or damaged.

Among the hardest cities hit were the Dallas suburbs of Arlington, where more than 400 homes were damaged, and Lancaster, where some 300 structures were damaged and 10 people were injured, two seriously, according to NBCDFW.com


The National Weather Service was investigating reports that up to 18 tornadoes touched down during a relatively short time frame.

"We're at just the beginning of a very unusual" tornado season, NBC weather anchor Al Roker said on TODAY. April 2011 saw a record 758 tornadoes, he added, "hopefully we're not on track for that this year."

Weather.com meteorologist Greg Forbes told TODAY that the season is already "running about 50 percent above average for the number of tornadoes."

"We've had record heat," he added, and "that warmth is a big ingredient that provides the instability for the storms."

On Tuesday, one twister was seen on video tossing semi-trailers from an operations yard into the air with ease. Schneider National, the trucking company that owns the yard, said Wednesday that no one was hurt but that dozens of trailers were destroyed or damaged.

Mom recounts saving daughters from 'terrifying' tornado
Videos show flying semi-trailers, golf ball-sized hail
Flights still disrupted at DFW airport

Despite the intensity of the slow-moving storms, no fatalities were reported.

In Arlington, a twister tore through part of a nursing home, injuring two residents.

"The windows were flying out, and my sister is paralyzed, so I had to get someone to help me get her in a wheelchair to get her out of the room," NBCDFW.com quoted Joy Johnston as saying. "It was terribly loud."

Johnston said her 79-year-old sister, whom she was visiting, was taken to the hospital because of her delicate health.

"The hallways were all jammed," Johnston said. "Everyone was trying to help each other to make a path for others. I'd say everybody was out of their rooms within 20 minutes."

Lisa Rebstock, who hid in her bathroom with her two young daughters when a tornado ripped through their Texas home Tuesday, tell TODAY's Ann Curry it was the "most terrifying thing" she's ever been through.

The storm system moved into the Southeast on Wednesday and the weather.com published a map showing the danger area for thunderstorms and possibly tornadoes there.

The danger zone stretched from the Texas coast and parts of East Texas to northern Florida, and from Kansas to Virginia.

The greatest chances of a severe storm Wednesday were in Nashville, Memphis, Jackson, Mobile and Lake Charles.

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