Severe storms rake Texas, Oklahoma; tornado watch in effect
DALLAS (AP) — Multiple tornadoes ripped through parts of Texas and Oklahoma, causing injuries and widespread damage in areas near Austin and Dallas, officials said. The storm system was poised to move into Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, carrying the risk of dangerous tornadoes and powerful winds.
In Texas, several tornadoes were reported Monday along the Interstate 35 corridor, particularly in the Austin suburbs of Round Rock and Elgin, and in an area west-northwest of Dallas-Fort Worth. Another reported tornado caused damage in the southern Oklahoma town of Kingston.
At least four people were injured Monday in Texas, officials said.
By Tuesday morning, the system was bringing heavy rainfall and thunderstorms to parts of Texas and Arkansas, said Jeremy Grams, lead forecaster with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A tornado watch was in effect for parts of Texas and Louisiana.
In Louisiana, high water early Tuesday posed a threat to motorists on several roads, including a stretch of Interstate 20 and several state highways after rains overnight, authorities said. Deputies in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, rescued three drivers from high waters during the night, the sheriff's office tweeted before dawn.
The storms were expected to intensify throughout the day as temperatures rise, increasing the threat of tornadoes, hail and strong winds. Much of Louisiana and Mississippi were at a moderate risk of severe weather Tuesday, the second-highest risk category issued by the Storm Prediction Center.
"We're still a bit uncertain on just how intense and how longer-lived some of these tornadoes may be, so we're going to be just below that threshold of the greatest risk," Grams said Tuesday morning.
Louisiana's federal and state authorities reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and recreational vehicle trailers to have an evacuation plan because the structures might not withstand the expected weather. More than 8,000 households live in such temporary quarters, officials said.
The storm already left misery in its wake in Texas. Officials reported damage throughout Jacksboro, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Fort Worth. There, photographs posted on social media showed a storm ripped the wall and roof from parts of Jacksboro High School, especially its gym.
"It brought tears to my eyes," school principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.
Thirty miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Jacksboro, near Bowie, the damage was widespread. Four people suffered minor injuries, said Emergency Manager Kelly McNabb.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference Monday night in suburban Austin's Williamson County that he was thankful that there were no reports of fatalities.
"We know there are many people whose lives have been completely disrupted and people who've lost their homes," Abbott said. "At the very same time... it may be a miracle also, because even though there's been some devastating physical damage, to my knowledge, as of right now, there is no report of loss of life, which is just stunning."
Associated Press journalist Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.