Tornadoes rip through Texas, more storms threaten US’s south

The system is bringing heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, tornadoes are predicted in Louisiana and southern Mississippi.

Damage to home
A family of three people was rescued from the rubble of their home in the town of Bowie, Texas after a tornado touched down there, and one woman was hospitalised, local news reported [Tamir Kalifa/Reuters]

Multiple tornadoes ripped through parts of the US states of Texas and Oklahoma, killing at least one person, United States officials said, as well as causing injuries and widespread damage in areas near the major cities of Austin and Dallas.

An official said a 73-year-old woman died when the tornado hit the community of Sherwood Shores, Texas on Monday night. Ten other storm-related injuries have been reported in the county about 145km (90 miles) north of Dallas and near the state’s border with Oklahoma.

The storm system was poised to move into Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, officials said, carrying the risk of dangerous tornadoes and powerful winds.

On Tuesday morning, the system was bringing heavy rainfall and thunderstorms to parts of Texas and Arkansas, said Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A tornado watch was in effect for parts of Texas and Louisiana.

“We’re still a bit uncertain on just how intense and how longer lived some of these tornadoes may be, so we’re going to be just below that threshold of the greatest risk,” Grams said Tuesday morning.

In Louisiana, high water early Tuesday posed a threat to motorists on several roads, including a stretch of Interstate 20 and several state highways after rains overnight, authorities said. Deputies in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, rescued three drivers from high waters during the night, the sheriff’s office tweeted before dawn.

The rough weather comes a day after tornadoes ripped through north and central Texas on Monday, destroying homes and businesses, knocking out power and injuring at least several people.

It also comes after severe winter storms in February left hundreds of thousands of people in Texas without power and heat.

A family of three people was rescued from the rubble of their home in the town of Bowie, Texas after a tornado touched down there, the local NBC affiliate reported. One woman was hospitalised.

Multiple other structures were damaged in and around the town of 5,000, roughly 145km (90 miles) northwest of Dallas.

Multiple homes were damaged or left in ruins in Round Rock, Texas, a city of around 120,000 people about 32km (20 miles) from Austin, after a tornado touched down there, officials said.

Another reported tornado caused damage in the southern Oklahoma town of Kingston.

The storms were expected to intensify throughout the day on Tuesday as temperatures rise, increasing the threat of tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Much of Louisiana and Mississippi were at a moderate risk of severe weather, the second-highest risk category issued by the Storm Prediction Center.

Louisiana’s federal and state authorities reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and recreational vehicle trailers to have an evacuation plan because the structures might not withstand the expected weather. More than 8,000 households live in such temporary quarters, officials said.

Damage to homes
A tornado moved through Round Rock, Texas leaving destruction in its wake – the storm system was expected to move into Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, officials said, carrying the risk of more dangerous tornadoes and powerful winds [Adrees Latif/Reuters]

The storm already left misery in its wake in Texas. Officials reported damage throughout Jacksboro, about 100km (62 miles) northwest of Fort Worth. There, photographs posted on social media showed a storm ripped the wall and roof from parts of Jacksboro High School, especially its gym.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” the school’s Principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.

Also in Texas, firefighting crews were making progress containing a massive Texas wildfire that killed one person.

The Eastland Complex fire has burned about 220sq km (85sq miles) since a series of fires broke out last week in an area west of Dallas. The fires were about 60 percent contained as of Monday night.

The fire has burned 147 structures and led to the death of Deputy Sergeant Barbara Fenley, who died while going door to door telling residents to evacuate, officials said.

Overall, crews have responded to 178 wildfires that have burned nearly 440sq km (170sq miles) statewide since last Thursday, officials said.

A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on flames as the Eastland Complex wildfire
Firefighters have been battling a number of wildfires across Texas amid hot, dry conditions  [Twitter/@johnnyhaysmd via Reuters]
Source: News Agencies