Tornadoes Suspected of Causing Damage Southwest of Houston

February 16, 2017

Tornadoes are suspected of damaging homes and injuring people Tuesday southwest of Houston, Texas, as a strong storm system moved quickly across much of the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Overpeck said agency teams were inspecting damage in three locations to confirm whether a tornado touched down Tuesday morning in each area.

Damage is evident in communities stretching from Van Vleck in Matagorda County north to Wharton and Rosenberg, he said.

The weather service had issued tornado warnings for dozens of counties extending from the San Antonio area over to Southeast Texas.

Doug Matthes, emergency management coordinator for Matagorda County, said it appears a tornado passed through Van Vleck and touched down in two locations.

“Tops of trees are twisted off and at least one home is completely torn apart,” Matthes said.

A preliminary review of the damage in Van Vleck, a town of about 1,800 people near the Texas coast, indicates up to four homes were destroyed and several others damaged, he said. Seven people were transported by ambulance for medical care and it’s not clear how many more may have been taken to hospitals by private vehicle, he said. The seven people taken by ambulance didn’t appear to have serious injuries, he said.

The path of the tornado was close to a junior high school where students sheltered in place, Matthes said. Crews were working Tuesday afternoon to restore power and the Red Cross was offering assistance.

“It’s a rural community so these folks take care of themselves,” he said.

Elsewhere, more than 3 inches of rain fell in some areas west of Austin, and rain was mixing with snow in the Texas Panhandle, resulting in slick roads and delays in school openings.

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