Tornado Strikes Near Houston as Severe Southern Storms Move East
A senior housing facility in Deer Park, Texas, was damaged, prompting the evacuation of its residents. Emergency and city workers were removing debris from roadways and attending to numerous calls.
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Judson Jones is a meteorologist and reporter for The Times.
A tornado tore through communities southeast of Houston on Tuesday afternoon, destroying a senior assisted living facility in Deer Park and causing other widespread damage that the authorities were still evaluating, officials said.
The strong winds came amid warnings of tornadoes in Texas and across the South on Tuesday.
Over 15 million people living along the Gulf Coast, including in Houston, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala., were at risk with the severe storms, which moved toward Louisiana after passing through Texas.
Emergency responders in Deer Park and nearby Pasadena were removing debris from roadways and responding to calls for assistance.
The storm tore through Deer Park just before 3 p.m. and destroyed the San Jacinto Manor, a senior assisted living facility, city officials said. No one was injured, but the city, which is about 19 miles south of Houston, had yet to find shelter for the 59 residents who needed to be relocated.
Emergency responders were assessing damages in Deer Park, which included fallen power lines and minor damage to homes, said Mayor Jerry Mouton.
No injuries or deaths were reported, though the Police Department had warned that “dozens of calls” were coming in and assistance might take longer than expected.
Flooded streets also stranded a school bus from the Waller Independent School District, about 40 miles northwest of Houston, causing high school students to be transferred to another vehicle.
Locations of tornado sightings or damage reported by trained spotters.
Source: National Weather Service | Notes: Reports are considered preliminary. Data is for the 24 hours starting Jan. 25 at 7 a.m. Eastern, during which updates are being made every 10 minutes.
By John Keefe
Forecasters with the Storm Prediction Center at the National Weather Service had warned people in the region on Tuesday to anticipate potentially damaging winds and strong tornadoes.
A tornado watch remains in place until 1 a.m. local time for all of southeast Louisiana, the National Weather Service in New Orleans said. Severe weather, high winds and flash flooding will threaten areas of the state throughout the night until 4 a.m.
More than 1,000 schools and almost 150 hospitals are within the exposure zone for the potential tornadoes in Louisiana, the service said.
Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said he had directed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to prepare the state’s response resources, adding that the authorities at every level were at the ready. At least three dozen flights were canceled and hundreds were delayed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking company.
The National Weather Service issued a tornado emergency for suburbs of east of Houston around 2:30 p.m. local time. A tornado emergency is “an exceedingly rare tornado warning issued when there is a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from an imminent or ongoing tornado,” according to the Weather Service.
In Louisiana, the governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness tweeted messages about storm safety. “We face another severe weather threat this week,” the agency said, urging residents to remain alert. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency sent similar messages about storm preparation.
The risk for severe weather will move to the eastern Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Coast on Wednesday into Thursday. Cites along the East Coast from Norfolk, Va., to Jacksonville, Fla., could see tornadoes later this week.
Large hail is also a risk as these storms push through.
New Orleans was hit by a deadly tornado last month as a series of storms swept the South. And last March, two tornadoes touched down in the area around the city, killing at least one person and leaving a path of destruction in their wake.
Derrick Bryson Taylor, Jesus Jiménez and April Rubin contributed reporting.