Damaging Storms Move East Across the South, Bringing Tornado Threats and Snow

A day after tornadoes brought damage to portions of Texas, the same line of storms was forecast to push through the Southeast.

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A tornado ripped through communities near Houston and severe storms brought heavy rain across the region.CreditCredit...Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

Judson Jones is a meteorologist and reporter for The Times.

A line of storms that brought damaging tornadoes to parts of the South on Tuesday was marching east on Wednesday, bringing a risk of severe storms to more than 7 million people from Florida into the Carolinas.

A tornado tore through communities southeast of Houston on Tuesday, destroying a senior assisted-living center near the city and causing other damage. As the storm moved into Louisiana from Texas on Tuesday, three people were hospitalized with mild to moderate injuries after storms damaged mobile homes in an area northwest of Baton Rouge, The Advocate newspaper reported. A police official at the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed the report but declined to provide other details.

Significant power outages were spread across the South on Wednesday. Some 63,000 customers in Arkansas, where officials have blamed outages on ice, were without electricity, according to PowerOutage.us, which compiles data from utilities. More than 56,000 customers were without power in Missouri, where officials blamed heavy, wet snow for the outages.

The northern edge of this storm system is also delivering a swath of winter weather that will leave snow on the ground from Texas to Maine. Snow was winding down in Arkansas, where six inches to a foot of snow has fallen across portions of the Ozark Mountains but will move northeast through the day Wednesday into Thursday.

“This snowfall will bring some relief from the ‘snow drought’ for portions of the Mid-West, northern Mid-Atlantic, New York State and central to northern New England where snowfall totals this season are well below average,” forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center said.

The combination of heavy snow and gusty winds will likely lead to more power outages.

In Texas, where some of the worst damage from severe storms was recorded, more than 14,000 customers were without electricity, mostly in the far eastern region of the state.

Share of customers without power by county

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Source: PowerOutage.us Notes:  Counties shown are those with at least 1 percent of customers without power. By The New York Times

Before the sun rose Wednesday, severe thunderstorms capable of producing more tornadoes were moving across the Florida Panhandle. These storms will continue to threaten portions of northern Florida and southern Georgia, including Tallahassee, Fla., and Savannah, Ga., through the early afternoon.

“All the ingredients are present to support strong to severe thunderstorms as this system moves through, with damaging winds and tornadoes, some possibly significant,” the forecasters at the National Weather Service in Tallahassee said Wednesday.

As the day progresses, warm, moist air will lift north along the East Coast, expanding the risk of severe weather into the eastern Carolinas on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Damaging winds will be the main threat, though a few tornadoes will be possible.

After the storm hit Texas on Tuesday, emergency responders in Deer Park, about 19 miles south of Houston, and nearby Pasadena were removing debris from roadways and responding to calls for assistance.

Tornadoes in Texas and Louisiana

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

The storm tore through Deer Park just before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, destroying San Jacinto Manor, a senior assisted-living center, city officials said. No one was injured, and the city said it had relocated the center’s 59 residents by Tuesday night.

Conditions were similar in Pasadena, a city next to Deer Park and about 14 miles southeast of Houston, where a tornado touched down about 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It caused severe damage to homes and businesses but there were no reported fatalities, said Raul Granados, a spokesman for the Pasadena Police Department. The American Red Cross and Salvation Army were coordinating meal assistance and shelters for people had who lost homes.

The animal shelter in Pasadena sustained “substantial damage,” including a partial roof collapse, Sergeant Granados said. No employees were injured, and two dogs had minor injuries.

Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.