Around 8:00 PM on Monday Evening, April 27th, 2020, a severe thunderstorm impacted the Del Rio area. This was the second severe thunderstorm causing significant damage to the local area during the month of April 2020, the previous storm on the evening of April 11th, which brought up to grapefruit-sized hail.
Unlike April 11th, the April 27th storm did not bring hail, but rather extremely strong wind gusts - some of the highest on record for the Del Rio area.
The responsible thunderstorm created a strong outflow boundary (gust front) just to the west of Del Rio, which caused winds to gust as high as 77 mph at the Del Rio International Airport, which is the highest confirmed wind gust of the evening. There have been additional reports of higher wind gusts from personal weather stations (up to 103 mph) that have not been confirmed.
Wind speeds of 77 mph are comparable to that of a Category 1 Hurricane and an EF-0 tornado.
There were widespread reports of downed trees, roof damage, and downed power lines and poles. Electricity was out for most of Del Rio for several hours - and in some cases, though the entire night. Pictures below are from the Del Rio Community Spotlight Facebook page.
There are also unconfirmed reports of a tornado or funnel cloud in the Del Rio area during this storm. However, radar imagery does not indicate significant rotation associated with the storm. Brief rotation - although rather insignificant - was noted near the Devils River north of Lake Amistad. Storm damage to the various homes and businesses within Del Rio is consistent with powerful straight-line winds, not tornadic activity. While a brief tornado or funnel cloud cannot be completely ruled out, the vast majority of impacts through the Del Rio area were felt by the straight-line winds alone, based on the unidirectional orientation of the surveyed damage.
There has only been a handful of wind speeds of this caliber on record for the Del Rio area, including a severe thunderstorm on April 25th, 1990 which caused 112 mph winds at Laughlin AFB and widespread damage through town.
STWX Strategic is a meteorology consulting firm in Del Rio, Texas. Dan Schreiber is an American Meteorological Society Certified Consulting Meteorologist, and works directly with attorneys, insurance professionals, emergency responders, and citizens on a variety of weather-related incidents.