Tornado Damages Buildings in San Antonio, Texas

October 11, 2011

A small tornado touched down in San Antonio early Sunday, damaging several homes and a post office.

The overnight storm dumped more than 3 inches of rain on the city and left thousands without power, the San Antonio Express-News reported. It was not immediately clear whether the tornado caused any injuries.

The twister touched down about 1:20 a.m. Sunday and traveled about 1.5 miles with a path about 50 yards wide, according to the National Weather Service. Strength and wind-speed estimates have not been determined.

The storm tossed around postal trucks and bent lights in a parking lot before it dissipated.

Lisa Campos, 35, said she was awakened by the strong winds shortly after 1 a.m.

“It sounded like a whistle, and then everything crashed,” she said. “I didn’t know what it was, but it was over fast – it just lasted about two minutes.”

Campos said she and her four sons between the ages of 2 and 14 stood in shock in the living room before realizing what happened. Shortly afterward, she heard sirens, and a San Antonio police officer later knocked on her door and told her a tornado may have struck.

She said trash was strewn across her backyard, and the roofing of a back patio had been bent in different directions.

“It could have been much worse,” she said.

Nearby, Daniel Martinez, 27, awoke to a loud bang. He said his younger brother pried open the front door, which was being held shut by the wind, and saw a mailbox flying through the air. After several minutes, the winds quieted, he said, and neighbors emerged from their homes to survey the damage.

The roof of his parent’s house had been blown off, and a neighbor’s tree had somehow become lodged in the windshield of a truck.

“It was very surprising,” said Martinez, whose family chose to remain in the partially damaged home. “We’re not really known for our tornadoes here in San Antonio.”

About 9,300 homes reported power outages overnight, CPS Energy spokesman Victor Robledo said. By midday, about 2,300 customers remained in the dark, he said.

More rain was expected throughout the day and officials warned that low-water crossings could flood. Several had been closed.

More than 3 inches of rain was reported in San Antonio between midnight and 3 p.m. Sunday, forecaster Bob Fogarty said.

“This was a significant rain event,” Fogarty said. “It was a good one, because it was widespread; it got the aquifer good. Every little bit helps.”

But the rain wasn’t enough to put a dent in the precipitation deficit created by this year’s drought, he said.

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