Tornado causes damage east of Houston; no injuries reported

PASADENA, Texas (AP) — A powerful storm system slammed into the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, unleashing a tornado that toppled utility poles and power lines and overturned vehicles in communities east of Houston. The roofs of houses and businesses were knocked off. There were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

The National Weather Service has issued a tornado emergency for the area, warning of a “large, extremely dangerous and potentially deadly tornado” on the ground Tuesday afternoon and heading toward Baytown, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Houston. Baytown) moved. The warning expired as the system moved eastward, leaving cooler temperatures.

High winds damaged commercial buildings, homes and power lines near Pasadena, a city southeast of Houston. Power poles and power lines were downed and several cars, including a trailer, were damaged or overturned in the parking lot.

Footage from Houston TV station KTRK showed heavy damage to several businesses, including the city’s animal shelter. Nearby, a fence was laid and tiles and parts of the roof were ripped from the house, but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The American Red Cross said it would open a shelter in Pasadena.

In Baytown, power lines were down and homes and businesses were damaged, but no serious injuries were reported, Baytown spokesman Jason Calder said.

Officials in nearby Deer Park said the tornado wreaked havoc at a nursing home. Residents had to be taken away, but no one was injured.

As emergency crews struggle to restore power, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. urged anyone who needs accommodation to look outside his city.

“There’s a part of me that’s surprised no one got hurt,” Mouton said. “We’re going to dispose of the property and restore and rebuild.”

Many of the region’s suburbs have significant petrochemical industrial sites.

According to Shell spokesman Curtis Smith, Shell Chemicals’ plant in Deer Park is flaring or flaring natural gas after it lost steam due to inclement weather.

“We are taking steps to minimize any noise, light or smoke associated with this event, but expect it to continue until the facility is restarted,” Smith said by email. “There is no threat to the community and there is no indication that a nearby tornado hit the chemical plant.”

The website PowerOutage.us, which collects real-time outage data from utilities across the U.S., reported that about 123,000 Texas customers were without power Tuesday afternoon, mostly in the Houston area and surrounding counties.

This is the start of forecasted stormy weather along the Gulf Coast. The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, said coastal areas from Houston to the Florida Panhandle could experience tornadoes, strong winds and hail on Tuesday.

Storm system also brings snow and ice to much of central U.S.

Schools and businesses in Oklahoma were closed Tuesday and Wednesday, with snow totals ranging from 1 to 6 inches (3 to 15 centimeters) for central and eastern parts of the state. Several school districts in southwestern Louisiana laid off students early Tuesday as severe weather was expected in the area.

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