Strong storms cause damage across Houston area

March 20, 2012 8:37:13 PM PDT
The National Weather Service is investigating the possibility that at least one tornado caused damage as a line of strong storms moved through the Houston area.

NWS has issued a couple of storm reports that indicate the possibility of a tornado around 8am. One report states that a funnel cloud over Piney Point was spotted from the Marathon Tower, and that it appeared to be in contact with the ground.

Some workers with Lyondell-Basell suffered injuries when high winds toppled a tent. It's not clear how many workers were inside the reinforced, industrial-sized tent of about 50 feet by 100 feet. The workers were in the process of being moved, according to Lyondell-Basell spokesperson Scott Buchman, when the tent became unstable and flipped over. Four workers complaining of aches and pains were checked out at East Houston Medical Center and released.

The storms are also blamed for a fire at the San Jacinto Steam Electric Station NRG facility on Miller Cut Off Road in La Porte. Spokesperson Dave Knox says it appears lightning struck the switch yard sometime around 10am as the storms moved through, causing a fire. The facility provides power for CenterPoint lines. Knox said service to customers shouldn't be interrupted.

High winds broke some windows at the Bank of America building on I-10 near Federal. A light pole was knocked down, and some vehicles in the parking lot suffered broken windows and wind damage as well.

Jeff Lindner with Harris County Flood Control District reports several trees and fence lines down at Beltway and Westheimer. Winds in that area were estimated by radar to be between 55-60 mph.

According to Steve Rosa with the Brazoria County Office of Emergency Management, there are reports of some minor damage to homes in Brazoria County, mainly fence damage. NWS also reports shingles blown off a home and a fence down in the South Fork subdivision of Pearland.

There are scattered reports of trees down across the entire viewing area.

A huge tree snapped in half, falling sideways and forming a blockade in west Houston. Neighbors say they were awakened by the storm and many are wondering if this was the work of a tornado.

The large oak tree fell at around 8am, according to neighbors on South Cheska Lane in Piney Point, blocking the road for people up and down the street until the fire department came to cut away the branches, giving them back their roadway.

HISD has canceled all after-school athletic events for today because of rain. This DOES NOT mean that all after school activities have been canceled. Each campus decides on its own whether non-athletic activities are happening today.

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