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Houston-area twister that caused 'extensive damage' rated at least ...

A tornado that devastated the southeast Houston suburbs of Pasadena and Deer Park on Tuesday has been rated at least an EF-2, according to officials.

Fox News Correspondent Casey Stegall is in Pasadena, Texas as the cleanup process begins following violent tornadoes ripping through the state. 

HOUSTON – A tornado that devastated the southeast Houston suburbs of Pasadena and Deer Park on Tuesday has been rated at least an EF-2, according to officials.

The twister prompted the National Weather Service office in Houston to issue its first Tornado Emergency after radar showed debris was being thrown into the air. Officials described it as a "large and extremely dangerous tornado" in the warning that was issued at about 2:30 p.m. Central time.

WHAT IS A TORNADO EMERGENCY?

Pasadena is one of the cities southeast of Houston that appeared to have been hit hard by the tornado. A spokesman for the Pasadena Police Department said "extensive damage" has been reported to buildings on the southeast side of the city. He said no injuries have been reported, but hundreds of calls have been placed to 911, and authorities are starting to search damaged buildings.

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    The Pasadena Animal Shelter was said to have been hit by a tornado Tuesday afternoon. Several animals were injured.  ( )

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    A Houston neighborhood saw extensive damage from severe storms on Tuesday evening.  (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. (Brian Kelly)

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. ( )

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    Tornado damage in the Houston Metro area. ( )

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    Large pieces of debris from homes are scattered and power lines are downed across the Pasadena, Texas, area following a tornado on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (Jacob Hale)

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    Winds tossed debris.  (Jacob Hale)

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    Large pieces of debris from homes are scattered and power lines are downed across the Pasadena, Texas area following a tornado.  (Jacob Hale)

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    Damage to a home is seen in Pasadena, Texas, after an apparent tornado ripped through the area southeast of Hosuton on Jan. 24, 2023. (Rangel_WX/Twitter)

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    A Houston home lost a portion of its roof during a storm on Jan. 24, 2023. (@Rangel_WX / Twitter)

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    Damage along Houston's Interstate 45 on Jan. 24, 2023.  (Brandon Copic / Live Storms Media)

The city's animal shelter sustained significant damage. Officials said a couple of dogs at the shelter were injured and are being treated. About 70 other animals were being moved to another facility to be housed. 

During a news conference carried live by FOX 26 Houston, Pasadena Police Chief Josh Bruegger described the damage in the city as "catastrophic."

"In my 25 years here, this is probably the worst damage I've seen," Bruegger said.

The town of Deer Park, just to the northeast of Pasadena, also appears to have sustained damage from the tornado. A storm spotter reported lots of damage to trees, power lines, buildings and vehicles in the area. Two locomotives were also reportedly derailed, and several natural gas leaks have also been reported.

"We are getting reports of pretty significant damage down in the Deer Park area, on the southeast side of Harris County," said Dan Reilly, the warning coordination meteorologist at the Houston NWS office. "There may be other areas of damage, so it’s a very fluid situation right now."

LOOK AT THE DAMAGE CAUSED BY STORMS IN THE HOUSTON AREA

Dan Reilly, Warning Coordination Meteorologist for NWS Houston, says they have gotten reports of significant damage in the Deer Park, Texas area.  

Workers at a daycare in Deer Park told FOX 26 Houston they had to move the children there to safety as the twister hit.

"They were scared," one worker said. "Everybody was kind of into a panic cause we went fast and tried to get everybody in fast, and so they were a little scared, but we talked to them, put on Cocomelon, calmed them down, and after that, everybody was pretty much OK."

HOW TO WATCH FOX WEATHER

Deer Park Resident Gina Rodriguez was at work when the tornado hit and describes her experience as her boss advised her not to leave work as the tornado was approaching. 

The NWS said in a tweet Wednesday that teams surveying the damage determined the tornado was at least an EF-2 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. That means the twister had winds of at least 111 mph. Surveys are ongoing, so the rating could be adjusted.

The tornadic weather caused by a powerful winter storm is not only creating severe thunderstorms across the South but also dumping snow on a large swath of the U.S.

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