Possible Tornadoes Hit Texas

Possible Tornadoes Hit Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Another round of storms and strong winds moved east across Texas on Saturday, with three radar-confirmed tornadoes damaging homes and causing injuries in the Houston area.

It's the second day of turbulent weather in the state, where at least two people died in flood waters on Friday in central Texas and two were still missing from flash floods in the Austin area.

As the storms moved east, National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Blood said a tornado went through Brazoria County near Alvin about 5 a.m. Saturday, injuring at least two people and damaging about 25 mobile homes in the community that's 30 miles south of Houston.

Thirty minutes later, a tornado hit the Houston suburb of Friendswood, collapsing the roof of one home. No one was injured because residents were not home, officials said. Another 30 or so homes had minor damage. And about 7 a.m. Saturday, between 10 and 30 homes were damaged by a tornado in a subdivision in eastern Harris County, Blood said.

In the Houston area, up to 8 inches of rain have fallen since Friday night, and will continue to fall until early Saturday afternoon, Blood said. That's resulted in flooded streets, leading officials to suspend public light-rail and bus transportation. The Houston Fire Department said it had responded to more than 90 water rescues by midmorning Saturday.

"A lot of the feeder roads are under water and we have some bayous that are out of their banks, contributing to the flooding around the city," Blood said.

Utilities in East Texas said 44,000 customers were without power. The National Weather Service issued a flash flood watch for areas near Houston, Galveston, Bryan, College Station, Tyler and Texarkana until Saturday afternoon.

The storms and suspected tornadoes, which forecasters say were caused by an upper-level disturbance from Mexico, socked an already-sodden swath of Texas that was still drying out from the remnants of Hurricane Patricia. Austin, San Antonio and surrounding areas were first hit Friday. Two people died when they were swept away by flood waters, and a man and a woman also were still unaccounted for in separate incidents.

More than 16 inches of rain soaked one neighborhood on Friday and Austin Bergstrom International Airport suspended all flights after a half-foot of water flooded the air traffic control tower; 40 flights were canceled there on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a lazy creek cutting through Texas wine country, a popular getaway spot, swelled into a rushing torrent, sending eight members of a vacationing church group scrambling to a second floor before they were rescued by the National Guard.

Similar conditions in May — soaking storms on the heels of others — caused devastating flooding on the Blanco River that swept homes from foundations and killed families who were carried downstream. The Blanco River this time swelled to about 26 feet in Wimberley, nearly twice the flood stage.

Abandoned cars, many submerged in water, littered back roads that weary drivers risked after heavy downpours flooded Interstate 35 between San Antonio and Austin, closing one of the busiest stretches of roadway in the U.S.

Farther south in Floresville, a suspected tornado caused only minor injuries, said Sgt. Jason Reyes of the Texas Department of Public Safety. Ruth Veliz, whose parents own a taco shop in town, said one of her employees yelled "Tornado!" and tried to keep the winds from blowing inside before a customer pulled her to safety.

"The door was flying open with her as she was trying to close it," Veliz said.

(KA)