AccuWeather is wrapping up live coverage of the severe storms that struck the Houston areaand other parts of the Gulf Coast region. Snow is spreading across parts of the Northeast and will continue into Thursday night. For additional coverage, stream AccuWeather NOW anytime on our website. Stay up to date on the latest weather in your area by downloading the AccuWeather mobile app and visiting AccuWeather.com. And keep an eye on weather news and forecasts by following AccuWeather on:
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Rampant severe weather across the Midwest and Northeast Wednesday has led to numerous flight delays and cancellations at major airports. At LaGuardia Airport in New York City, severe weather and wind caused some arriving flight delays during the afternoon hours, averaging 42 minutes. At Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, a ground stop was put into effect in the early afternoon due to snow on the runways. According to FlightAware, there have been 3,641 flight delays within, into, or out of the United States on Wednesday, including 648 at Chicago O’Hare International and 290 at the Detroit airport. Chicago Midway International Airport led the way in cancellations, with a total of 136 through the afternoon hours.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced in a press conference Wednesday that there had only been a few injuries following the destructive tornado that had torn through the city’s southeastern suburbs the day before. “The good news is that with all of the property damage that we are witnessing, just like at this apartment complex, no one was killed and [there were] very few injuries,” Turner said. A few people had needed to be transported for medical care, but there were no serious injuries. “It’s just miraculous,” he added.
Houston Fire Department Chief Samuel Peña said that the damaged area was a wide area that the fire department needed nearly 200 firefighters to cover and quickly assess. Over 300 apartment units needed to be searched, and crews completed primary and secondary searches Tuesday night. “We will be out again today to conduct a third search to ensure that we didn’t miss anything,” Peña said. “Visibility was bad last night, but we were very fortunate that this incident didn’t occur at a different time of day.” Had this happened at night, Peña said, it could have easily had a different outcome. He also praised the school across the street, which typically lets its students out around the time the tornado struck. “They were very proactive, I think, in ensuring that none of the children were hurt, and very fortunately, we only had four people that we transported with minor injuries,” Peña said.
The destructive tornado that hit the Houston suburbs of Deer Park and Pasadena Tuesday afternoon was upgraded from "at least EF2" strength to EF3 strength Wednesday, as confirmed by the National Weather Service’s Houston office. The tornado’s maximum wind speed was noted at 140 mph, with an estimated maximum path length of 18 miles and a maximum path width of 0.66 miles. A full summary will be provided by the NWS Wednesday evening.
Nearly a foot of snow covers the ground across north-central Arkansas and south-central Missouri, and thousands of residents are bracing for a cold, powerless night. As of 3 p.m. CST, over 110,000 electric customers across the two states were without power, many of whom were located in the same areas where the heaviest snow fell, according to PowerOutage.us. With sunset fast approaching, folks could spend the night in the dark if they do not have a generator to create power. Additionally, temperatures are forecast to drop into the 20s on Wednesday night across the area, raising the potential for pipes to burst in homes where there is no heat.
After a damaging tornado on Tuesday, confirmed to be at least EF2 strength, officials in Deer Park, Texas, are making power restoration their biggest short-term priority. In a press conference Wednesday morning, Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. told his constituents that CenterPoint Energy restored power to 217,000 homes and facilities that lost power during the tornado emergency, using 24 overnight crews to do so. Approximately 16,000 remain without power in the city, with additional resources being brought in to continue restoration. The city’s public works department, Mouton Jr. noted, was working overtime to remove debris to achieve a smoother restoration process. City facilities were closed on Wednesday, while officials with Deer Park Independent School District were waiting for power restoration before determining whether schools would be open on Thursday. The mayor is “thankful” that there are no serious injuries or casualties in the area, and gave credit to a number of agencies that helped in the response, such as the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas A&M Task Force One.
A screenshot of the weather radar around Buffalo, New York, at 2:20 p.m. EST on Jan. 25, 2023. The lightning bolt indicates where thundersnow was reported. (AccuWeather)
A band of heavy snow that passed over western New York early Wednesday afternoon featured a flash and a bang that caught the attention of people in the area. Thundersnow was observed near Tonawanda, New York, located about 10 miles north-northwest of Buffalo around 2:20 p.m. EST Wednesday. Buffalo is no stranger to thundersnow as it frequently occurs during intense lake-effect snow events, but what was unusual about Wednesday’s thundersnow is that it was happening during a large-scale snowstorm as opposed to a lake-effect snowstorm. Thundersnow has also been reported in southern Ontario about 30 miles east of Detroit.
Winter weather snarls traffic near Toledo, Ohio. (Ohio DOT)
The snow falling across the Midwest has created slippery driving conditions. An accident on Interstate 475 west of Toledo, Ohio, began to tie up traffic on Wednesday afternoon, with a traffic camera at Hill Avenue showing long lines of traffic through a thick curtain of snow. Blue police lights are visible through the snow, along with at least one semi-trailer truck off the road, facing traffic. It is unclear if there were any injuries. In Lucas County, at the Ohio-Michigan line, Southbound I-75 was mostly blocked after a semi jackknifed. The Ohio Department of Transportation stated over Twitter that it has more than 1,000 crews on duty, continuing to clear roads as the snow moves through the northern portion of Ohio.
The weather radar around New York City early Wednesday afternoon Green indicates rain while blue represents snow. (AccuWeather)
Precipitation was spreading through New York City early Wednesday afternoon as rain rather than snow. As seen on the AccuWeather radar, rain has spread across New York City as of 1 p.m. EST. Just to the west of New York City, in parts of eastern New Jersey, cold air is creating snow, but temperatures in the city aren’t cold enough at the surface to allow snow to fall. The Big Apple is just days away from breaking the record for the latest date to see measurable snowfall in recorded history. At the official weather station in New York City’s Central Park, no measurable snow has been recorded this winter, only flurries. Currently, it has been 321 days since the last measurable snow has fallen in New York City. The current record, which stands at 332 days, ended on Dec. 15, 2020.
While storms were plentiful across the South on Tuesday, much of the major damage was seen in Deer Park and Pasadena, eastern suburbs of Houston, following the tornado emergency. The twister that had tracked through the area Tuesday afternoon — now rated to have been at least of EF2 strength — tore roofs from homes, littered the roads with debris and easily snapped trees in half. It wasn’t the only location to see damage from a possible tornado, however. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center listed 16 preliminary tornado reports from Tuesday, all of which spanned from southeastern Texas into western Florida. In Orange County, Texas, downed power lines and multiple vehicles that had flipped or rolled off of Interstate 10, TX-62 and TX-73 were attributed to a possible tornado. Farther east, several homes had roof damage and trees had been torn down in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana.
The Tallahassee metro area was under a tornado warning late Wednesday morning, with radar imagery showing the likely tornado tracking dangerously close to the NEXRAD radar. The warning was issued for an area that included Tallahassee and Bradfordville, Florida, noting an observed tornado and small hail. Radar footage indicates a tornado tracked close to the device just before 10:30 a.m. EST, brushing past the same radar tower that was observing the storm.
More than 150,000 electric customers across Missouri and Arkansas are without power this morning in the wake of the snowstorm that blanketed the region with 6 to 12 inches of fresh powder. The bulk of the power outages are in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri in the same zone where the heaviest snow fell. According to PowerOutage.us, over 97% of all customers are without power in Oregon County and Howell County, located in south-central Missouri near the border of Arkansas. A similar story is unfolding in Stone County, Arkansas, located in the state’s north-central region, where 95% of electric customers are in the dark.
A map of the central United States showing the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures across the region late Wednesday morning. (AccuWeather)
Folks in the dark are dealing not only with snow, but also chilly weather. At 10 a.m. CST, the AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures across the region were hovering in the upper 20s to low 30s. People using generators to keep the lights on should ensure they are being operated outside in a well-ventilated area to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
A drone survey of the tornado path in Deer Park, Texas, showed a broad scope of damage left behind following the tornado emergency that had been issued for the area on Tuesday afternoon. The aerial footage shows debris tossed about and scattered across the ground, utility poles leaning dangerously over the roads and roofs torn from homes. In the background, a line of cars is stopped behind police vehicles, and farther back a structure had caught fire.
As the drone turns, it moves over a commercial area and toward a row of homes. Some of the buildings have faired better than others, but the home the drone approached had the roof entirely torn from the structure, revealing the interior. As a group of people walks inside to survey the damage, they are still visible from above as the drone flies overhead. Not only had the roof been swept away, but a few of the exterior walls had also been pried from the home. In the backyard, a wooden fence had collapsed and was partially lying in a small flooded area, adding to the debris across the field.
Storm survey teams from the National Weather Service office in Houston have confirmed at least EF2 damage in southeast Houston following the damaging tornado Tuesday that sparked a tornado emergency. The twister tore through the city of Deer Park, aerial footage of the aftermath showing several damaged homes and businesses. Among the locations damaged was the San Jacinto Manor, an assisted living facility. A Deer Park news release noted 63 people had been in the building at the time, and three of the residents were transferred “only due to injuries we believe to be related to pre-existing conditions.” Some roads in the area are still impassable due to downed utility poles, and officials warned residents and motorists not to pass the barricades.
Manuel Mendez carries some of his belongings out of his storm-damaged home Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Pasadena, Texas. A powerful storm system took aim at Gulf Coast Tuesday, spawning tornados that caused damage east of Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
According to TornadoArchive.com, this tornado was the closest twister to downtown Houston of at least EF2 strength on record during the month of January. Outside of the month, however, there have been stronger tornadoes in the Houston area over the years. This includes an EF4 tornado from 1992 that tracked 30 miles from east of Houston, along I-90 and lifted just past Dayton, Texas.
Travelers planning to fly to or from an airport in the Midwest or mid-Atlantic are facing weather-related disruptions as snow falls from Missouri to New York. Over 250 flights have been delayed, and more than 300 have been canceled, according to FlightAware. Chicago Midway International Airport and Chicago O’Hare International Airport account for most of the cancelations in the U.S., combining for nearly 200 cancellations as of 8:30 a.m. CST. Anyone planning to fly into or out of an airport across the snowy regions on Wednesday should check with their airline before heading to the airport.
Tornadoes that touched down on Tuesday have added to an abnormally high number of January tornadoes in the United States. Before Tuesday, the January tornado count in the country was at 102, the third-highest on record. Tuesday’s tornadoes may give January 2023 a chance to move to the second-highest count, which was 137 tornadoes in January 2017. The January tornado record still stands at a staggering 214 in January 1999. Besides Tuesday’s severe weather, including a dangerous storm in the Houston area, the month included tornadoes in the South that resulted in at least nine confirmed fatalities. The beginning of the month had another outbreak, with a total of 43 tornado reports tallied by the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center from Jan. 2-4.
Heavy rain led to flooding and several new daily records in Texas on Tuesday. At Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the 4.05 inches of rain that fell broke the previous daily record of 1.94 inches from 2011. The rain totals were smaller around the Austin area, but the 1.23 inches that fell at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport broke the previous record for Jan. 24 of 0.81 inches from 1974. Higher totals were reported around the Houston area including more than 5 inches in San Felipe and Tomball.
As a winter storm delivers travel-disrupting snow to the Midwest, more than a dozen Michigan school districts have closed for the day. As of 6:30 a.m. EST, snow could be seen on the AccuWeather radar falling across the southern half of the state. Heavier snow was reported near Kalamazoo, Michigan, which is just north of the Indiana-Michigan border. While only 3-6 inches of snow is forecast for the southeastern corner of Michigan, the snow is expected to fall during the morning and evening commute. “AccuWeather meteorologists warn that a combination of heavy snow poorly timed with the morning or evening commute in many metropolitan areas can snarl traffic, lead to dangerous travel conditions,” AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jonathan Porter said.
Early Wednesday morning, a new tornado watch was issued for parts of Florida's Panhandle and extreme southeastern Alabama. The watch went into effect at 4 a.m. EST and will continue until 11 a.m. EST, unless otherwise noted. The watch says damaging wind gusts up to 70 mph and a couple of tornadoes are possible. In addition to the tornado threat, severe storms could also feature frequent lightning and flash flooding.
Tuesday’s severe weather risk covered a number of states along the Gulf Coast region, but by Wednesday, the threat will shift closer to the Atlantic coast, and extend from northern Florida to southern Virginia. The I-95 corridor has been included in the risk area outlined by AccuWeather meteorologists. “The most significant threat from the storms will stem from powerful wind gusts that can reach hurricane force (75 mph) in some cases,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski stated.
Severe weather and snow have wreaked havoc on the power grid in several states. As of 4 a.m. CST Wednesday, Arkansas tops the list with more than 80,000 customers without power according to PowerOutage.US. This is largely due to heavy, wet snow which has caused tree branches to come down and fall onto power lines. Some of those power outages extend into Missouri, where more than 30,000 are in the dark.
Farther south, over 45,000 customers are still without electricity in Texas in the wake of Tuesday's tornadoes. More than 10,000 customers are being affected into Louisiana.
On the northern side of the severe weather, the air was cold enough to produce snow on Tuesday. Some of that snow was heavy, and rather far to the south. The Ozark Mountains run through southern Missouri and northern Arkansas, and this helped to enhance the snowfall. Chimes, Arkansas, at an elevation of over 1,800 feet received 12 inches of snow on Tuesday. Farther to the west, 10 inches was reported in the Texas Panhandle in the town of Matador. The snow will move farther northeastward today, getting into the Ohio Valley and Northeast.
Knowing the critical difference between a tornado watch and warning will help you prepare for incoming severe weather and could save your life.
Tornado watch: This means you are "watching" for something to happen. Usually issued a few hours before severe storms could hit a broad area. A watch is used to alert the public of a developing threat for tornadoes where conditions exist for creating tornadoes, but one has not necessarily formed yet. When under a watch, it is important to be prepared and remain vigilant.
Tornado warning: This means forecasters are "warning" you to take action and seek shelter immediately. It is more urgent than a tornado watch.Warnings are issued minutes before a tornado strikes a highly localized area. A tornado is imminent or has been detected on radar.
A simple way to remember the difference between both is using the taco analogy. A watch means the ingredients to make tacos are there, but the taco has not been made yet. A warning means the tacos have been made and are ready right now, eating them is coming very soon.
Here are a few myths surrounding tornadoes to be aware of with the upcoming storms.The first misconception is that green clouds indicate a tornado is forming. While they may indicate a strong thunderstorm, that doesn’t necessarily mean a tornado will form as well. Two other myths which prove to be dangerous are that seeking shelter under an overpass is safe and opening windows equalizes pressure. Both are false and can result in serious harm. Sheltering in the southwest corner of a basement is another myth that is dangerously false. When a tornado strikes, the safest place to shelter would be in a closet in a basement or a tub. If a person lives in a mobile home, they should have a plan in place to shelter elsewhere. The last two myths are that tornadoes only form on flat land and they are always visible as they approach. Tornadoes can form almost anywhere provided the right conditions come together, and while you may be able to spot some tornadoes from a good distance, others may be wrapped in rain and barely visible.
Damage to an apartment complex in southeast Houston has left some residents wondering where they’ll be spending Tuesday night. AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell was at the complex off of Beamer Road in the far southeast area of the city, stating that residents were shaken up by the tornado that tore through. Some second-floor units in the complex were missing roofs, fencing was bent and debris was littered around the complex. Houston firefighters went door-to-door after the tornado struck in the afternoon, tagging damaged units, with some residents not able to see inside. Some residents that were at work when the tornado hit frantically attempted to get home through roadblocks and debris, wanting to check on pets and see what can be salvaged from their units. Wadell also noted that poor phone connection in the area has made communication tougher for those trying to get in touch with loved ones.
Businesses were wrecked and roofs were ripped off apartments during a tornado warning in the Houston area on Jan. 24.
The Houston area has been drenched in rainfall Tuesday, with several suburban areas undergoing flooding on major roads. AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell shared video from Interstate 10 near Brookshire, Texas, roughly 40 miles west of downtown Houston, where the eastbound lanes were underwater. Just east of Brookshire in the Houston suburb of Katy, a car was found stuck in high water after the engine stalled attempting to go through the flooding. Due to the severe weather, many Houston-area schools have canceled after school activities, including Houston ISD, Galena Park ISD and Santa Fe ISD. Hull-Daisetta ISD, 50 miles northeast of downtown Houston, dismissed students at 1 p.m. CST.
Pasadena, Texas, has seen significant damage Tuesday from a tornado, including at a local animal shelter. The Pasadena Animal Shelter was hit hard by the storm, including losing a large portion of the building’s roof and is in immediate need of foster homes for dogs as a result. “If you have any room … and have the heart to open your home to any of these poor animals, now is the time to step up,” the Cypress Lucky Mutt Rescue noted on social media about the situation. “This is going to take the rescue village.” No injuries were reported at the shelter.
The Houston suburb of Deer Park has suffered significant damage as result of an afternoon tornado, but no injuries or fatalities were suffered due to the severe weather. In an update Tuesday evening, officials in Deer Park stated that Deer Park Independent School District will be closed Wednesday, and that residents should stay off the roads as workers attempt to repair downed power lines. Damage reports in the city continue to come in through the evening, including a train being blown over by the storms and significant structural damage to an office belonging to Innovative Teachers of Texas. Between 25 and 30 structures in the city have "significant damage," and 30 local roads are closed due to fallen trees or power lines.
Damage reports continue to stream in from severe weather in the Houston area, including significant harm done to a local wastewater facility. Houston’s Public Works department reported late Tuesday afternoon that a wastewater facility on Kingspoint Road in the southeast area of the city has “significant damage,” but that the facility is still functioning. The City of Houston’s 311 assistance line reported that 22 debris calls were made, along with 23 flooding/water reports on roads, and four structure flooding reports. The Houston Fire Department noted that the roof of a local apartment complex was blown off, leading to the transport of three individuals with non-life threatening injuries. The fire department is currently surveying damage in neighboring communities, such as the hard-hit Deer Park area.
Wind speeds in southern Louisiana began to approach 20 to 25 mph along the coast on Tuesday. Wind gusts of 23 and 25 mph were recorded around the city of New Orleans, and a gust of 30 mph was recorded in Theriot, Louisiana, less than 10 miles south of Houma. New Orleans — along with much of southern Louisiana, southern Mississippi and southwestern Alabama — was under a high wind warning as of Tuesday afternoon. Overall, more than 36 million people were under a wind advisory, high wind watch or warning in the Southern states.
Damaging storms have transitioned from southern Texas into Louisiana Tuesday evening, including a possible tornado in Beauregard Parish. The parish's sheriff's office was responding to damage reports on Highway 171 in Ragley, located 25 miles north of Lake Charles. One home was noted as completely destroyed, with a second home also hit with unspecified damages. Several downed power lines and trees were also reported, as well as flooding in low lying roads. Beauregard Electric released a statement about the downed lines, telling residents not to go near them or trees that were entangled in wires. No injuries were reported as of 7 p.m. EST.
With severe storms pounding southeast Texas Tuesday, power outages have ballooned to over 100,000 in the state. According to PowerOutage.US, total outages in Texas as of 5:38 p.m. CST were 112,911 tracked customers. Over 22,000 of these outages were reported in Harris County, home to Houston and surrounding neighborhoods that were hit by a tornado on Tuesday afternoon. Other counties slammed with outages include Orange County, where just over 42% of tracked customers were without power (over 17,000 outages in total), and Wharton County, with over 37% of tracked customers without power.
The tornado threat is shifting from Texas to Louisiana with a new tornado watch in effect until 1 a.m. CST Wednesday. Over 3.2 million reside in the area under the watch, including those in New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In addition to the tornado threat, severe storms could also feature damaging wind, frequent lightning and flash flooding.
With the threat of tornadoes extending into the overnight hours, people who are under a tornado watch can receive severe weather bulletins through the free AccuWeather app. The app can alert users when dangerous weather is approaching, giving users time to seek shelter before a destructive storm or tornado strikes.
The Crossfit Southbelt gym building in Pasadena, Texas, was flattened by a tornado in the area, while co-owner Chris Duke and three others were sheltered in the building's restroom. (AccuWeather/Bill Wadell)
One of the buildings that took extensive damage from the tornado in the Houston suburb of Pasadena was the Crossfit Southbelt gym, where co-owner Chris Duke and three others had a brush with potential death. “We were working out and just took a little break because the wind picked up … I went to shut the door, about that time, the door blew off,” Duke told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell about the scenario. Duke then took his wife and two others into a building restroom, and the building collapsed while they were inside.
“Luckily, the bathroom was reinforced, built really well, that’s the only thing that kept us alive,” Duke said. After the building collapsed, Duke and the others fought their way out of the restroom doors and out of the building before emergency personnel showed up. “Everybody’s alive, everything else can be replaced,” Duke said.
The Houston suburb of Deer Park, Texas, is reeling after a tornado tore through the city Tuesday afternoon. Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer was live from Deer Park shortly after the tornado touched down, making sure local residents were safe in a shopping center completely littered with debris. One of the commercial buildings in the center, a Little Caesars Pizza restaurant, had significant damage coming through the roof of the building. Timmer noted that the tornado’s path just missed a local high school. “The tornado has just come through … emergency personnel are responding, and we’re going to shift into search and rescue mode here. This is a dangerous situation.”
Tornado damage as seen in Deer Park, Texas, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. (Reed Timmer)
Damage reports are streaming in following a likely tornado in the Houston area. Images taken after the storm passed showed a local business and one home that were torn apart in Pasadena, Texas, located southeast of downtown Houston. A local gym, home to Crossfit South Belt, was seen in a video with parts of the building completely flattened. Damage was also reported at the Pasadena Animal Shelter, as well as significant structural harm to a local home. Trees and poles were also seen downed in the Pasadena and neighboring Deer Park area. Vehicle damage reports have begun to come in as well, most notably an 18-wheeler overturning on the Texas 8 Beltway.
Damaging storms and tornadoes have been reported across the Gulf Coast of Texas, and the storms are making their way into Louisiana. Strong storms with frequent lightning have arrived in western Louisiana with a steady, thundery rain spreading across northern Louisiana and into Arkansas. The Storm Prediction Center issued a weather discussion highlighting the potential for a new tornado watch across southern Louisiana, including Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The storms could also cause travel disruptions along hundreds of miles of Interstate 10.
Severe weather throughout the Houston area has led to an incident at the Shell Deer Park Chemical Plant just west of the city. The facility’s Twitter account updated residents on an incident involving flaring activity, stating that the plant is “taking steps to minimize any noise, light, or smoke associated” with the incident, and that there “is no threat to the community.” The plant implemented a flare gas recovery system in 2012, compressing and recycling gas that would be sent to the flare. The Deer Park area of Houston is home to much industrial activity, including the Shell plant and a Dow Chemical plant.
As flooding continues in the Houston area, stranded motorists have prompted the Harris County Sheriff’s Office to begin rescue responses. As of 2:45 p.m. CST, the sheriff’s office was responding to at least 13 incidents involving flooding, including one at Doerre Intermediate School in the Houston suburb of Spring, as well as a separate incident of water going into a home. Texas Department of Transportation crews have begun assisting in areas of high water, including under the Interstate 45 Gulf Freeway. Flooding was also seen in the heart of Houston, including from a music store on the east side of the city.
A tornado emergency was issued for a swath of Harris County on Tuesday afternoon, extending to Baytown, Deer Park and Highlands until 3 p.m. CST. “This is a life threatening situation. Seek shelter now!” the National Weather Service warned. The emergency covers a population of over 335,000 people. The debris signature of the tornado associated with the emergency measured a little over a mile wide, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.
Damage reports have begun to come in from the tornado emergency, including downed trees and damage to a local tire shop. Power lines have also been reported down at Burke and Parkridge with officials warning people to avoid the area.
Severe flooding has also continued in the Houston area, with one car seen nearly submerged in the suburb of Spring, Texas, 25 miles north of downtown Houston:
Major storms passing through the Houston area have forced ground stops at both of the hub’s major airports. Departures to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport were both grounded early in the afternoon, with the ground stop continuing through at least 2:15 p.m. CST. There is a medium probability of the stops being extended at both airports. For the Bush airport, one of the largest in the United States, a total of 76 arriving and departing flights have been canceled as of Tuesday afternoon, with another 348 delayed, according to FlightAware.
January is the third least tornadic month on average, but that doesn’t mean people can let their guard down when it comes to severe weather. “It is generally uncommon to see many tornadoes in January,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said. Since the first of the month, there have been 139 preliminary tornadoes across the U.S., according to the National Weather Service.
AccuWeather Meteorologist Raya Maday explained that the clusters of tornadic activity across Louisiana and Alabama this year have to do with the right ingredients being in place. “The cluster of reports over Louisiana and into Alabama, that’s just due to the proximity of how close the Gulf [of Mexico] is,” Maday said in an interview with AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno. “The Gulf is 2-4 degrees C above normal. And what that means is we get more moisture.” When warm, moist air is combined with unstable air and a force in the atmosphere that causes the unstable air to rise, that’s when severe weather forms. Maday warns that another round of severe weather will take aim at the Southeast through Tuesday evening.
AccuWeather expert Raya Maday shares an explanation of January’s high number of tornado reports over the South and where severe storms are headed.
Winds from a possible tornado appear to have blown a tractor-trailer off of U.S. Route 87 just outside of Victoria, Texas, and onto the nearby railroad tracks. A photo from the scene shows the cab of the semi crashed onto the tracks. Victoria, Texas, is about 120 miles southwest of Houston. No further details were immediately available.
A tornado-warned storm moved through Eagle Lake, Texas, located just west of Houston, Tuesday morning. City Manager Charles Jackson told AccuWeather he believes a tornado touched down in Eagle Lake. “We have some damage to buildings, down power lines and tree damage,” Jackson said. “We have received a significant amount of rain as well.“ A trained weather spotter confirmed the touchdown of the twister just before 11:30 a.m. CST. The National Weather Service will likely conduct a post-storm survey once the storms have passed to confirm the intensity and duration of the twister.
Texans are facing different forms of extreme weather on Tuesday, but the type of weather depends on location. Millions of people in and around Houston are bracing for damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes as severe weather ramps up near the Gulf Coast. A tornado watch is in effect until 6 p.m. CST Tuesday with several tornado warnings having already been issued. Meanwhile, 300 miles to the northwest, winter weather alerts are in effect with snow falling. Snow has yet to be observed in Abilene, Texas, while reports of around 4 inches have come in from near Amarillo, Texas, while 7 inches of snow was measured near Lubbock, Texas.
Snow-covered roads are creating travel headaches for those in northern Texas and parts of Oklahoma. Near the Oklahoma-Texas state line, on Interstate 40, a tractor-trailer and an officer collide Tuesday morning. As the police truck was being pulled out of the ditch, the vehicle slid sideways and collided again with the tractor-trailer. Storm Chaser Aaron Rigsby captured the moment the officer and the tractor-trailer were pulled from the ditch in a video he shared on his Twitter. According to Rigsby, dozen of other tractor-trailers were jackknifed and off the road along I-40 near the Texas-Oklahoma border Tuesday morning.
The Houston metro area has seen 18 tornadoes in January since records began in the 1800s, according to TornadoArchive.com. Only one, an EF1 tornado in 1991, has hit downtown proper. The strongest tornado to hit within 20 miles of the city during January was given an EF2 rating. That twister occurred near Lynchburg, Texas, and injured two people on Jan. 24, 1933.
One of the worst January tornado outbreaks in Texas and Louisiana was Jan. 2, 1999, when 47 tornadoes struck in those two states and also spawned twisters eastward into Georgia and Florida. There was also a significant tornado outbreak on Jan. 8-9 2022, with 23 preliminary tornado reports from the Houston area into west-central Louisiana. Those included an EF2 tornado near Peason, Louisiana, 50 miles northwest of Alexandria.
The first tornado watch associated with the storm rolling into the South was issued for southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana, covering 7.4 million people. The watch spans from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Jefferson Davis Parish, Louisiana, and warns of possible scattered gusts of 70 mph, ping-pong-sized hail and a few tornadoes. Houston and Galveston, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, are just a few cities that fall under the watch. Unless otherwise noted, it will expire around 6 p.m. CST.
The same storm system that will bring severe weather to the lower Mississippi River Valley is delivering snow across other parts of the South Central and the mid-Mississippi River Valley. The Texas Panhandle and parts of northwestern Arkansas were under winter storm warnings on Tuesday morning, part of the swath of such warnings that stretched from New Mexico to Ohio and covered some 18 million people, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). Snow began late in the night, and the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport received 4.8 inches of snow between midnight and 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, according to the Lubbock NWS office. The office itself measured 2.8 inches of snowfall and a measurement of 6 inches of snow was recorded in Roaring Springs, some 60 miles northeast of Lubbock.
With severe weather in the forecast, it is important to understand and prepare for the risks that are inbound. These are five tips that can help you and your family prepare in advance:
Shelter safety: It is important to make sure the storm shelter is safe and provides an escape if the door is blocked by potential debris.
Access to shelter and supplies: Having a storm shelter that cannot be accessed effectively defeats the purpose of having one at all. Shelters should be as easily accessible as possible.
Security and restoration planning: If doors and windows are shattered and missing, securing the property quickly is essential. Making sure the property is structurally sound and having a repair company in mind should be planned before the severe weather.
Insurance and financial protection: Consumers should look at the types of disasters their area may be prone to, to determine if they have the proper coverage in place.
Protecting irreplaceable property with sentimental value: Some items may never be able to be replaced after a disaster. For these items, it is a good idea to take preventative measures to protect personal possessions that hold sentimental value.
A stormy start to the morning is underway across Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma on Tuesday. Heavy rain could be seen on the AccuWeather radar falling in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, Texas. In San Antonio and Austin, heavy rain was associated with storms that were also producing a significant amount of lightning. Light rain was spotted falling in Houston as well. Oklahoma City had rain falling Tuesday morning, but by mid-morning, a switchover to snow was taking place. Heavy rain was also reported in Shreveport, Louisiana, Tuesday morning. Storms and rain will continue to track east throughout the day.
Warmer-than-normal waters in the Gulf of Mexico have helped fuel severe weather across the lower Mississippi River Valley over the past few months, and this system will be no different. “Flooding downpours — those are also going to be an issue here because there’s going to be a lot of moisture streaming upward from the Gulf of Mexico — and that’s basically one of the reasons why we’ve been dealing with so much severe weather across the South here over the last several months,” AccuWeather Prime Host Adam Del Rosso explained. As the jet stream slides the low-pressure system eastward, the system will pull warm, relatively muggy air from the Gulf northward, fueling severe weather.
AccuWeather’s Adam Del Rosso breaks down the forecast for potentially severe thunderstorms tracking from the Gulf Coast to the Southeast from Jan. 24-25.
Over 15 million people living near the Gulf Coast are at risk of many forms of severe weather through Tuesday night. Damaging winds and flash flooding are expected to be the most widespread danger, but tornadoes will also be possible where the most vigorous thunderstorms develop. Houston is particularly prone to flash flooding, so people in and around the city should pay close attention to the weather radar and avoid traveling through swamped streets.
The impending severe weather outbreak could become even more perilous after nightfall. “A tornado risk at night is especially dangerous, so residents along the Gulf Coast will need to have a way to reliably get warnings while asleep,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bill Deger said. People who download the free AccuWeather app can have severe weather alerts sent directly to their phones.
As a potent storm pulls warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico, substantial rainfall will be possible across the southern U.S. through Wednesday. The storm will spread a general range of 1-3 inches of rain from Texas to the East Coast. Cities along the Gulf Coast will be in the prime location to receive higher rainfall totals as potent thunderstorms develop. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 5 inches is possible in the strongest storms. The flooding downpours will create reduced visibility, especially on the roadways, and travel delays.
In addition to the risk of severe thunderstorms Tuesday, more than 40 million people in the Southeast are under wind advisories. Damaging wind gusts of 55-65 mph are expected across the southern U.S. An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph is possible in the strongest storms.
A high wind warning is in effect from just east of Houston to Pensacola, Florida. More than 5 million people will be affected by the high wind warning. A high wind watch is in effect across parts of southwestern Alabama, and far eastern Mississippi, affecting more than 205,000 people. A wind advisory is in effect across a large swath of the southern U.S., affecting more than 37 million people. The wind advisory is in effect across parts of southwestern Texas, eastern Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and northeastern Florida.
As strong to severe storms race across the Southeast Tuesday evening, extremely dangerous sea conditions are expected along coastal Alabama and northwest Florida beaches. The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Mobile issued a “rare storm warning” as gusts up to 50 knots (57.5 mph) and waves of 8 to 11 feet are possible. “Just don’t even consider getting into the Gulf,” the NWS Mobile office wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. Dangerous surf and life-threatening rip currents will be possible through Wednesday night, the NWS warned. Minor coastal flooding and beach erosion are possible as well.