PASADENA, Texas (AP) — A powerful storm system targeted the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, creating a tornado that downed utility poles and power lines, overturned vehicles and ripped off roofs from 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 the area and warned that a “large, extremely dangerous and potentially deadly tornado” was on the ground Tuesday afternoon and heading for Baytown, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston. The alert faded as the system moved eastward, leaving behind cooler temperatures.
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 overturned in a parking lot.
Footage from Houston television station KTRK showed several businesses suffered major damage, including the city’s animal shelter. Fences were knocked down and clapboards and sections of roofs ripped from houses nearby, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The American Red Cross announced that it would open an animal shelter in Pasadena.
There were power lines and damage to homes and businesses in Baytown, but no reports of serious injuries, said Baytown spokesman Jason Calder.
Officials at nearby Deer Park said the tornado severely damaged a nursing home. Residents had to be evacuated, but no one was injured.
While responders worked to restore power, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. urged anyone in need of a place to look outside of their town.
“There’s an aspect of me that’s amazed nobody got hurt,” Mouton said. “We will take care of the property and salvage and rebuild it.”
Many of the suburbs in the area have a strong presence of petrochemical sites.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said natural gas was flared or burned at Shell Chemicals’ Deer Park site after it lost steam due to severe weather.
“We are taking steps to minimize any noise, light or smoke associated with this activity, although it is expected to continue until units restart,” Smith said via email. “There is no threat to the community, nor is there any evidence that a tornado made landfall at the Chemicals facility nearby.”
The website PowerOutage.us, which collects live power outage data from utilities across the United States, reported that about 67,000 customers in Texas were without power as of Tuesday night, mostly in the Houston area and surrounding counties. The site reported about 28,000 outages in neighboring Arkansas and about 25,000 in Louisiana.
The storm system also brought snow and ice to much of the central US
Schools and businesses were closed across Oklahoma on Tuesday, which saw snowfalls ranging from 3 to 15 centimeters in the central and eastern parts of the state. Several school districts in southwest Louisiana laid off students early Tuesday in anticipation of severe weather in the area.
Photo: A resident walks past a housing unit where the bricks fell at the Deer Park Apartments after a strong storm system ripped through the area Tuesday, January 24, 2023, in Deer Park, Texas near Houston . (Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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