Devastating Thunderstorms Hit Southeast Texas, Leaving Four Dead and Hundreds of Thousands Without Power

Fast-moving thunderstorms hit southeastern Texas for the second time this month, resulting in at least four fatalities and causing extensive damage. The storms shattered windows in high-rise buildings, uprooted trees, and knocked out power to over 900,000 homes and businesses in the Houston area.

AP News reported this, Officials urged residents to stay off the roads following Thursday’s storms, as many were impassable and traffic lights were out. Although the storm system moved through quickly, flood watches and warnings remained in effect for Houston and areas to the east on Friday.

Houston Mayor John Whitmire confirmed that four people died due to the severe weather. Two deaths were caused by falling trees, and another occurred when strong winds toppled a crane.

Houston experienced significant flooding, and downed trees and power lines were widespread. Whitmire reported wind speeds reaching 100 mph (160 kph), accompanied by some twisters, reminiscent of the 2008 Hurricane Ike.

“Stay at home tonight. Do not go to work tomorrow unless you’re an essential worker. Stay home, take care of your children,” Whitmire advised during a Thursday evening briefing. “Our first responders will be working around the clock.”

The National Weather Service warned that Gulf Coast states could face severe thunderstorms with tornadoes, large hail, and damaging winds. Heavy to excessive rainfall was forecasted for eastern Louisiana into central Alabama on Friday.

In Houston, hundreds of windows were shattered at downtown hotels and office buildings, littering the streets with glass. The state sent Department of Public Safety officers to secure the area.

According to ABC News “Downtown is a mess,” Whitmire said, noting a backlog of 911 calls that first responders were addressing.

The storms also impacted neighboring Louisiana, leaving over 215,000 customers without power. In the New Orleans area, more than 100,000 Entergy Louisiana customers lost power. The Storm Prediction Center reported a tornado in Convent, Louisiana, approximately 55 miles from New Orleans, with numerous trees and power poles downed.

Wind gusts reached 84 mph (135 kph) at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and 82 mph (132 kph) at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, according to Tim Erickson, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s New Orleans and Baton Rouge office. A flash flood warning was issued through Saturday.

At Houston’s Minute Maid Park, the retractable roof was closed due to the storm, but strong winds still blew rain into the stadium. Puddles formed on the outfield warning track, but the game against the Oakland Athletics proceeded as scheduled.

School districts across the Houston area canceled classes for more than 400,000 students on Friday. Flights were briefly grounded at Houston’s two major airports, where sustained winds over 60 mph (96 kph) were recorded at Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Approximately 900,000 customers in and around Harris County, which includes Houston, were without electricity according to Harris County is home to over 4.7 million people.

CenterPoint Energy warned customers to “be prepared for extended weather-related power outages.”

The storm’s impact extended to Houston’s suburbs, with emergency officials in neighboring Montgomery County describing the damage to transmission lines as “catastrophic” and warning that power could be out for several days.