PASADENA, Texas (AP) — A winter storm that brought severe weather to the Gulf Coast and winter rainfall to the north headed east on Wednesday, a day after tornadoes caused extensive damage in the Houston area and injured three people in Louisiana .
Forecasters declared a rare tornado emergency in the Houston area Tuesday as the storm system passed through the densely populated area. Significant damage was reported in cities east of Houston, but there were no reports of casualties.
In Louisiana, three people suffered “mild to moderate” injuries when their mobile homes were overturned or destroyed after a tornado hit the Morell Lane area north of Baton Rouge, the Pointe Coupee County Sheriff’s Office said.
The storm on Wednesday is expected to bring destructive winds to parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, forecasters said. Winter weather warnings have been distributed from southern Missouri to Maine, with 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 centimeters) of snow expected in areas of New England, according to the National Weather Service.
In Texas, several businesses in Pasadena, east of Houston, were severely affected, including the city’s animal shelter. Fences were blown up nearby, tiles and sections of roofs were torn off houses. The American Red Cross announced that it was opening a shelter in Pasadena.
There were power outages and damage to homes and businesses in Baytown, but there were no reports of serious injuries, Baytown spokesman Jason Calder said.
Officials in nearby Deer Park said the tornado caused extensive damage to the nursing home. Residents had to be evacuated, but no one was hurt.
“There is one side of me that is amazed that no one was hurt,” Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton Jr. said as emergency crews worked to restore power. “We will deal with the property, restore and restore.”
There are many petrochemical plants in many suburbs of this area.
Shell Chemicals’ Deer Park plant was flaring natural gas after it lost steam due to severe weather, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said.
“We are taking steps to minimize any noise, light or smoke associated with this activity, although it is expected to continue until the units are restarted,” Smith said via email. “There is no threat to the public and there is no indication that a nearby tornado has touched a chemical facility.”
The storm system also brought snow and ice to much of the central US.
Schools and businesses remained closed Wednesday in parts of Oklahoma, where total snowfall in central and eastern parts of the state was 1 to 6 inches (3 to 15 centimeters). More than 160,000 homes and businesses were left without power Wednesday morning in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri after heavy snow fell in the Ozarks a day earlier.
Murphy reported from Oklahoma City. Associated Press contributor Jill Bleed of Little Rock, Arkansas contributed to this report.
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