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Large tornado rips through the southeastern Houston area, leaving significant damage, Texas

A large tornado rips through the southeastern Houston area, leaving significant damage, Texas

Severe storms hit Texas, U.S. on Tuesday afternoon LT, January 24, 2023, causing widespread damage and leaving more than 100 000 homes without power. The NWS Storm Prediction Center received reports of 10 tornadoes by midnight UTC on January 25, with 7 of them happening in Texas and 3 in Louisiana.

  • Damaging winds and a few tornadoes remain possible across the upper Texas Coast, and extending eastward tonight across coastal areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the western Florida Panhandle.
  • A developing storm across the western Gulf coast on Tuesday afternoon will be pushing northeastward tonight into the Lower Mississippi Valley, through the Ohio Valley and Lower Lakes on Wednesday, January 25, and into the Northeast by early Thursday. This storm is set to have significant impacts across a large portion of the nation from the Gulf coast into the Northeast.

The damage caused by the tornadoes in Texas was widespread, with reports of downed power lines, visible roof damage to commercial and residential buildings, overturned 18-wheelers and crashed vehicles, partially collapsed buildings, and “catastrophic” damage to homes. Several areas in Houston were particularly hard-hit, including Katy, Jersey Village, Pasadena, Pearland, north central Chambers County, and southeastern Liberty County.

One of the most devastating tornadoes touched down in Pasadena, Deer Park, and Baytown, causing extensive damage to power lines and property. The twister formed near the major southern Houston traffic artery, proceeding to blast eastward, throwing cars around and damaging street posts.1

63 residents were rescued from the San Jacinto Manor nursing home in Deer Park, which was destroyed by the tornado. The chief executive officer of the Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council reported that only one patient suffered injuries, and needed to be taken to a local hospital.

In some neighborhoods, homes were completely taken off the slab. Pasadena officials reported being “inundated” with 9-1-1 calls and asked people to be judicious when calling emergency responders. Fire Chief Lanny Armstrong said his department responded to 60 calls since 14:00 CST (20:00 UTC). Officials said they were responding to gas leaks, building collapses, and downed power lines. One official described the damage as “just catastrophic.”

Pearland saw damage near the east side of the city, with residents reporting the most near Pearland Parkway and Hughes Road and some near Fite Road. Damage included downed trees, fences, and signs, roof damage, and structural damage to buildings.

Other damage reported across Houston included an apartment complex at 11150 Beamer, where the roof was blown off, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in a tweet. Three people were transported from that complex with non-life-threatening injuries. A wastewater facility at 9610 Kingspoint Road was also reported to have significant damage but is still functioning. The Houston Fire Department is responding to calls across the region and in harder-hit communities.

Major refineries and chemical facilities outside Houston also reported operational upsets, but no major incidents have been reported as of 17:00 CST (23:00 UTC).

As of 00:00 UTC on January 25 (18:00 CST, January 24), a total of 108 000 customers were without power in Texas and another 35 000 in Louisiana.

The full extent of the damage is still being assessed. Emergency services are working tirelessly to provide aid and assistance to those affected.

A developing storm across the western Gulf coast on Tuesday afternoon will be pushing northeastward tonight into the Lower Mississippi Valley, through the Ohio Valley and Lower Lakes on Wednesday, January 25, and into the Northeast by early Thursday, January 26, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) forecaster Oravec.2

This storm is set to have significant impacts across a large portion of the nation from the Gulf coast into the Northeast.

A well-defined area of precipitation Tuesday afternoon over the Southern Plains will be expanding northeastward with time. Heavy rains, isolated flash flooding, and severe thunderstorms are possible across portions of the western to central Gulf coast from Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night, spreading into the eastern Gulf coast and Southeast during Wednesday.

Heavy rains are also possible Wednesday into early Thursday across the major urban corridor from Richmond, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, NYC into Boston.

On the north and northwest side of this storm, heavy snows are likely from northwest Texas across much of Oklahoma into northern Arkansas, Southern Missouri, and southern Illinois from Tuesday afternoon into Tuesday night/early Wednesday. This heavy snow potential will then push northeastward across portions of the Midwest, Lower Lakes, northern Mid-Atlantic, Western/Upstate/Northern NY State, and northern New England from Wednesday into early Thursday.

Widespread snowfall accumulations of 100 to 200 mm (4 to 8 inches) or more are expected across these areas, with locations in northern New England having the potential for accumulations of 200 to 300 mm (8 to 12 inches). Winter storm warnings, advisories, and watches are currently in effect across all of these areas.

The expected snowfall will have moderate to major impacts from the Southern Plains into the Mid-Mississippi Valley, Midwest, portions of northern NY State into northern New England with snow-covered roads, and reduced visibility resulting in dangerous traveling conditions. In addition, the combination of heavy snow and gusty winds may result in downed trees and power outages.

This snowfall will bring some relief from the “snow drought” for portions of the Midwest, northern Mid-Atlantic, New York State, and central to northern New England where snowfall totals this season are well below average.

It is important for residents in the affected areas to stay informed about the latest weather updates, and to take necessary precautions to ensure their safety.

References:

1 What we know about tornado damage from Houston storms in Pasadena, Deer Park, other cities – Houston Chronicle – January 24, 2023

2 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 205 PM EST Tue Jan 24 2023

Featured image credit: HCSOTexas

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