PASADENA, Texas — A powerful storm system targeted the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, spawning a tornado that downed power poles and lines, flipped over 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 had issued a tornado emergency for that area, warning that a «large, extremely dangerous and life-threatening tornado» was on the ground Tuesday afternoon and headed toward Baytown, about 25 miles east of Houston. The warning expired as the system moved eastward, leaving cooler temperatures behind.
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 sustained significant damage, including the city’s animal shelter. Nearby, fencing was put up and tiles and sections of roofs were ripped off houses, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.
The American Red Cross said it was opening a shelter in Pasadena.
In Baytown, there were downed power lines and damage to homes and businesses, but no reports of serious injuries, Baytown spokesman Jason Calder said.
Authorities in nearby Deer Park said the tornado caused extensive damage to a nursing home. The residents had to be carried away, but no one was hurt.
As emergency crews worked to restore power, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. urged anyone who needed a place to stay to look outside of their town.
“There is a side of me that is amazed that no one was hurt,” Mouton said. “We will take care of the property and we will reclaim it and we will rebuild it.”
Many of the suburbs in the area have a strong presence of petrochemical industry sites.
Shell Chemicals’ Deer Park location was on fire, or burning natural gas, after it lost steam due to severe weather, according to Shell spokesman Curtis Smith.
“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 by email. «There is no threat to the community, nor is there any indication that a nearby tornado touched down within the Chemicals facility.»
The website PowerOutage.us, which collects live power outage data from utility companies across the United States, reported that about 67,000 Texas customers lost power Tuesday night, mostly in the Texas area. Houston and surrounding counties. The site reported about 28,000 outages in neighboring Arkansas and about 25,000 in Louisiana.
The storm system was also bringing snow and ice to much of the central US.
Schools and businesses were closed Tuesday in Oklahoma, which reported snowfall of between 1 and 6 inches in the central and eastern parts of the state. Several school districts in southwestern Louisiana dismissed students early Tuesday in anticipation of severe weather in the area.