Reported tornado causes damage east of Houston

Reported tornado causes damage east of Houston

PASADENA, Texas – A powerful storm system took aim at the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, spawning a tornado that downed utility poles and power lines, overturned vehicles and ripped roofs off homes and businesses in communities east of Houston. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for that area, warning that a “large, extremely dangerous and potentially fatal tornado” was on the ground Tuesday afternoon as it headed toward Baytown, about 25 miles east. from Houston. The warning expired when the system moved to the east, leaving cooler temperatures in its wake.

Strong winds damaged commercial buildings, homes and power lines in nearby Pasadena, a city southeast of Houston. Utility poles and power lines were downed, and several vehicles, including a trailer, were damaged or turned into a parking lot.

Footage from Houston television station KTRK showed extensive damage to several businesses, including the city’s animal shelter. Nearby, fences were knocked over and knives and parts of roofs removed from houses, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

A home has been damaged in Pasadena, Texas, where a tornado was reported to have touched down on Tuesday, January 24, 2023.
A home has been damaged in Pasadena, Texas, where a tornado was reported to have touched down on Tuesday.Mark Mulligan / Houston Chronicle via AP

The American Red Cross said they were opening a shelter in Pasadena.

In Baytown, power lines were downed and homes and businesses were damaged, but there were no reports of serious injuries, said Baytown spokesman Jason Calder.

Officials in nearby Deer Park said the tornado severely damaged a nursing home. Residents had to be evacuated, but no one was injured.

As emergency crews worked to restore power, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. urged anyone who needed a place to stay to look outside his city.

“There’s a part of me that’s surprised no one was hurt,” Mouton said. “We will deal with the property and recover and rebuild it.”

Many of the suburbs in the area have a heavy presence of petrochemical industry sites.

The Shell Chemicals site in Deer Park was burning, or flaring natural gas, after losing steam due to bad weather, according to Shell spokesman Curtis Smith.

Images:
People cross under downed power lines where a tornado was reported on January 24, 2023, in Pasadena, Texas.Mark Mulligan / AP

“We are taking steps to minimize any noise, light or smoke associated with this activity, although it is expected to continue until the units are restarted,” Smith said via email. “There is no threat to the public, and there are no signs of a nearby tornado touching down within the Chemical facility.”

The website PowerOutage.us, which collects live power outage data from utilities across the United States, reported that about 67,000 Texas customers were without power Tuesday night, mostly in the Houston area and surrounding counties. The site reported about 28,000 outages in nearby Arkansas, and about 25,000 in Louisiana.

The storm system was bringing snow and ice to much of the central US

Schools and businesses were closed Tuesday across Oklahoma, which saw snow totals of 1 to 6 inches across the central and eastern parts of the state. Several school districts in southwest Louisiana dismissed students early Tuesday in anticipation of severe weather in the area.

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