Severe weather rips through southeast Texas

June 13, 2012 2:07:45 PM PDT
The Houston area was slammed Tuesday by severe storms that downed many trees and left as many as 143,000 people without power. Many people on the north side of the viewing area remain without electricity today.

As of 11:45am, CenterPoint Energy was reporting 11,967 customers without power following a strong system that moved through from the north. At the peak of the storm, there were reports of up to 70mph wind gusts and hail that was up to two inches in diameter.

"It was just really windy and a lot of lightning and stuff. It was Mother Nature at her best," witness Bill Weir said.

Storm spotters say some windows were blown out on west side of office building at I-45 and North Sam Houston Parkway. Some trees were toppled at Forestgate and Woodlands Parkway and numerous others were downed just south of Lake Conroe Dam.

Just north of The Woodlands on Highway 45, a large tree fell on top of a Shenandoah home, destroying its roof.

In River Plantation, firefighters blamed a lightning strike from the storm for a fire that damaged a house there. The homeowner lost several valuable remote control airplanes stored in his garage.

And on Lockridge in Enchanted Oaks, about the only tall tree standing after Hurricane Ike near the Harrells' home couldn't stand any longer.

"I started getting some water in my garage and then my wife came out and said there was water leaking into the house, the front bedroom. A tree had fell down and broke off about halfway up," homeowner William Harrell said.

In the Heights, lightning brought a tree down onto their car just seconds after a family got out of it. But Judy Gutierrez and her grandson Ben Kaiser say it could have been so much worse.

"We just hear this boom and I can just feel the heat from the lightning and I look up and I see the lightning strike and she just tried to unlock the door as fast as she can, and she just leaves the key in there -- she just wants me inside so we're safe," Kaiser said. "It's the closest we've ever been to death."

They both say when the lightning struck, they could feel the vibration and heat in their bones.

Several residents around the Channel 13 viewing area also sent us pictures of downed trees in the areas of Indian Springs, Conroe, Tomball and The Woodlands.

Eyewitness News Reporter Sonia Azad was in The Woodlands, and says that around 4pm, the sky quickly went from clear and sunny to dark and cloudy. By 5pm, strong rain started falling and she said what sounded like hail was pelting the ABC13 truck.

Many trees in The Woodlands were toppled during the height of the storm. One large tree fell across a road and drivers who passed by it actually stopped to move it out of the way so other drivers could avoid accidents.

"A lot of people were pulling over and just helping each other because there were blocking the roads and couldn't get by so everybody was just working together to get them out of the road," mounted patrol Capt. George Williamson said.

Eyewitness News Anchor Tom Koch had just landed at Bush Intercontinental Airport around that same time and said his pilot has stopped the plane because the weather was too dangerous to move it to the gate. He said he could see several other planes also waited the storm out.

By 5:30pm, the storms had rolled over Houston and heavy rain started pouring down. The rain was so heavy that officers weren't able to get to a minor accident off Highway 59 near Newcastle. The wreck contributed to an even bigger traffic backup, which extended from the West Loop all the way to downtown on the Southwest Freeway.

But Highway 59 wasn't the only freeway to experience a major traffic backup.

Stretches of I-45, the North Freeway, turned into a parking lot. Some drivers spent several hours in traffic starting right after the rains slowed down Tuesday evening.

At the height of the storm, CenterPoint Energy reported as many as 143,045 customers were without power. That number started dropping just after 6:30pm, but was still around 50,000 just after 10pm.

If you caught photos or video of storms in your area, you can upload them at or email them to

And remember, if you lose power, you can always TEXT "abc13" TO 69222 to get our news and weather apps that will have the latest information.

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