April 26, 2007
The monster tornado — described as a meteorological FREAK — that hit Tuesday night "was an extremely strong and EXTREMELY RARE tornado. We haven't had one like this in this area for 50 years. Its maximum wind speed was 150 miles an hour, and only about 5 percent of tornadoes reach that level." The twister touched down about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, cut a ragged swath of destruction nearly a mile long and a quarter-mile wide through the Rosita Valley neighborhood about six miles southeast of Eagle Pass. "It looked like a war zone." The storm dropped at least two tornadoes. On the U.S. side, the twister killed seven people, sent about 80 to area hospitals and nearly 700 more to five emergency shelters. A half-hour earlier in Mexico, a tornado left at least three people dead in the working-class Villa de Fuente neighborhood in Piedras Negras, across the Rio Grande from Eagle Pass. Eighty-seven people were treated at the town's main hospital. There was criticism of the city's failure to use newly installed sirens designed to warn residents of such dangers. The sirens were among improvements made following the April 2004 floods that killed more than 35 people. Accustomed to dealing with severe floods, Maverick County leaders were caught off-guard by the powerful twister. "This isn't tornado country."