DALLAS (AP) — Multiple tornadoes swept 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 invade Louisiana and Mississippi Tuesday, bringing with it the risk of dangerous tornadoes and strong winds.
In Texas, multiple 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 city of Kingston
At least four people were injured Monday in Texas, officials said.
On Tuesday morning, the system brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to parts of Texas and Arkansas, said Jeremy Grams, senior forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A tornado watch was in place for parts of Texas and Louisiana.
In Louisiana, flooding posed a threat to motorists on several roads early Tuesday, including a section of Interstate 20 and several state roads, after overnight rain, authorities said.
Deputies in Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, rescued three drivers from floodwaters overnight, the sheriff’s office tweeted before dawn.
The storms were expected to intensify as the day progressed as temperatures rose, increasing the risk of tornadoes, hail, and high winds. Much of Louisiana and Mississippi faced a moderate risk of severe weather Tuesday, the second-highest risk category issued by the Storm Prediction Center.
“We’re still a little unsure of how intense and how long-lived some of these tornadoes might be, so we’ll be just below the highest risk threshold,” Grams said Tuesday morning.
Louisiana federal and state authorities reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and RV trailers to have an evacuation plan in place as the structures may not withstand the expected weather. More than 8,000 households are living in such makeshift shelters, officials said.
The storm has already wreaked havoc in Texas. Officials reported damage throughout Jacksboro, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) northwest of Fort Worth. There, photos posted to social media showed that a storm had ripped the wall and roof off parts of Jacksboro High School, particularly the gymnasium.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.
50 kilometers northeast of Jacksboro, near Bowie, the damage was widespread. Four people were slightly injured, said emergency manager Kelly McNabb.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said during a news conference Monday night in Williamson County in the Austin suburb that he was grateful there were no reports of fatalities.
“We know there are many people whose lives have been completely destroyed and people who have lost their homes,” Abbott said. “At the same time… it can also be a miracle because while there has been some devastating physical damage, to my knowledge there have been no reports of loss of life up until now, which is just staggering.”