(UPDATED May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm CT) National Weather Service Meteorologist-in-Charge Mario Valverde said damages from Thursday's storms in northeastern Smith County are not consistent with a tornado but rather straight-line winds in excess of 85 miles per hour.
There were reports that a tornado or multiple tornadoes had touched down in northern Smith County, including the Winona area, and southern Upshur County. Valverde said he has seen photos of funnel clouds from the area but that there is no evidence they touched down and became tornadoes.
"I found a lot of trees down and limbs broken from shaking but wholistically there's not enough evidence that points at it being a tornado," Valverde said.
Valverde said he was heading to Upshur County to survey a scene there.
"People are very sensitive to it right now," he said. "These storms are creating funnel clouds and rotation but it's not a tornado until it touches down."
Winona Fire Department Chief Nelson Brumley said he had visited with residents and seen the damage from Thursday's storms and described several spots as "very reminiscent of what I saw in Van." Brumley said the way a line of treetops were twisted indicated a tornado had been in the area.
Brumley said residents reported hail and slight damage, such as broken windows. One resident reported a piece of sheet metal in her front yard. She didn't know where it might have come from, Brumley said.
"It may not have touched down but it was close," Brumley said. "I've seen straight line winds and what they can do. This wasn't straight line wind. I hope they come out here and check it out because I would like to hear what they have to say."
Valverde had not been in contact with Brumley Friday.
On Friday, Gov. Greg Abbott's office added Smith County to a state disaster declaration issued following Sunday's storms that struck the city of Van in Van Zandt County and the Jamestown community in northwestern Smith County.
Valverde confirmed the tornado in Jamestown was an EF1 tornado with winds 86-110 miles per hour. The tornado that struck was part of the same storm system Valverde said but reached EF3 status with winds up to 165 miles per hour.
The disaster declaration qualifies homeowners who suffered damages from Sunday's storm for state aid and resources to assist in the recovery.