PASADENA, TX – A winter storm that brought severe weather to the Gulf Coast and winter precipitation to the north headed east on Wednesday, a day after a tornado caused widespread damage in the Houston area and injured three people in Louisiana.
Forecasters issued about Tuesday a rare emergency is a tornado for the Houston area as the storm system moved through the densely populated area. Cities east of Houston reported extensive damage, but no injuries.
In Louisiana, three people suffered “mild to moderate injuries” when their mobile homes were overturned or destroyed after a tornado touched down on Morel Lane north of Baton Rouge, the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office said.
The storm is expected to bring damaging winds to parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas on Wednesday, forecasters said. The National Weather Service said a winter weather advisory extends from southern Missouri to Maine, with areas in New England expecting 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow.
In Texas, several businesses in Pasadena, east of Houston, suffered severe damage, including the city’s animal shelter. Fences have been knocked down nearby, and shingles and sections of roofs have been torn from houses. The American Red Cross said it is opening a shelter in Pasadena.
Power lines were down and homes and businesses were damaged in Baytown, but there were no reports of serious injuries, Baytown spokesman Jason Calder said.
Representatives of nearby Deer Park said the tornado severely damaged a nursing home. Residents had to be taken away, but no one was hurt.
“There’s an aspect of me that’s surprised no one was hurt,” Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. said as emergency crews worked to restore power. “We will deal with the property, restore and rebuild.”
Many of the suburbs in the area have a large presence of petrochemical facilities.
According to Shell spokesman Curtis Smith, the Shell Chemicals location in Deer Park was burning with a flare or natural gas flare after it lost power due to severe weather.
“We are taking steps to minimize any noise, light or smoke associated with this activity, although it is expected to continue until the units are restarted,” Smith said via email. “There is no threat to the public, and there is no indication that the nearby tornado touched down at the Chemicals facility.”
The storm system also brought snow and ice to much of the central United States
Schools and businesses remained closed Wednesday in parts of Oklahoma, where between 1 and 6 inches (3 and 15 centimeters) of snow fell in central and eastern parts of the state. More than 160,000 homes and businesses were without power Wednesday morning in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri after heavy snow fell in the Ozarks a day earlier.
Murphy reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press writer Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas contributed to this report.
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