A powerful storm system targeted the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, creating a tornado that downed utility poles and power lines, overturned vehicles and ripped roofs off homes in communities east of Houston. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado emergency for that area, warning that a “large, extremely dangerous and potentially deadly tornado” was on the ground Tuesday afternoon and was heading toward Baytown, about 25 miles east of Houston. The warning ended as the regime moved east.
The storm damaged commercial buildings, homes, and power lines in the nearby city of Pasadena, southeast of Houston. Utility poles and power lines were downed, and several vehicles, including a trailer, were damaged or flipped in a parking lot. The gym seems to have been destroyed.
Footage from Houston television station KTRK showed several businesses suffering major damage, including the city’s animal shelter. Nearby, fences were put up and shingles and sections of roofing were torn off homes, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The American Red Cross said it would open a shelter in Pasadena.
Power lines were down and homes and businesses were damaged, but no serious injuries were reported, said Jason Calder, a spokesman for Baytown.
High winds destroyed a chemical plant in Deer Park. Video from inside the plant shared with CBS News showed debris falling from the roof. The person who shot the video told CBS News that everyone inside at the time was fine.
The Shell Chemicals site was burning or flaring natural gas after losing steam due to bad weather, according to Shell spokesman Curtis Smith.
“We are taking steps to reduce any noise, light or smoke associated with this activity, although it is expected to continue until units are restarted,” Smith said via email. “There is no threat to the community, and there are no indications of a nearby tornado occurring within the chemical facility.”
The tornado also caused significant damage to the Deer Park nursing home. The residents had to be moved, but no one was hurt.
While emergency crews worked to restore power, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. Anyone who needs a place to stay to look outside their city.
“There is one side of me that is stunned that no one was hurt,” Mouton said. “We will deal with the property, restore it and rebuild it.”
Site PowerOutage.usInc., which collects live power outage data from utilities across the United States, reported that about 83,000 customers in Texas were without power Tuesday night, mostly in the Houston area and surrounding counties.
It was the start of what was expected to be a stormy day along the Gulf Coast. Areas along the coast from Houston to the Florida Panhandle could see tornadoes, strong winds and hail Tuesday, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said.
The storm system was also bringing snow and ice to much of the central United States
Schools and businesses were closed Tuesday and Wednesday across Oklahoma, which saw between 1 and 6 inches of snow fall across the central and eastern parts of the state. Several school districts in southwest Louisiana dismissed students early Tuesday in anticipation of bad weather in the area. The snow extended as far northeast as Vermont.
Parts of Tennessee were shrouded in a thick fog.