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 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 advisory expired as the system moved eastward.
The storm 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. A gym appeared to have been destroyed.
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.
In Baytown, there were downed power lines and damage to homes and businesses, but no reports of serious injuries, Baytown spokesman Jason Calder said.
Strong winds damaged a chemical plant in Deer Park. Video of the inside of the plant shared with CBS News appeared to show debris falling from the ceiling. The person who recorded the video told CBS News that everyone inside at the time was fine.
The Shell Chemicals site was on fire, or flaring 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 83,000 Texas customers lost power Tuesday night, mostly in the Texas area. Houston and surrounding counties.
It was the start of what was expected to be a stormy day along the Gulf Coast. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said areas along the coast from Houston to the Florida Panhandle could see tornadoes, high winds and hail Tuesday.
The storm system was also bringing snow and ice to much of the central US.
Schools and businesses were closed Tuesday and Wednesday 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. The snow stretched as far as northeast Vermont.
Parts of Tennessee were shrouded in thick fog.