A tornado outbreak crushed parts of Texas Monday afternoon as a potent weather system tracked its way across the southern portion of the country.
Tornadoes touched down in Central Texas, including around Austin and its suburbs, right at rush hour. A tornado flipped at least one 18-wheeler, pushed down a light pole, and damaged cars as it passed over a congested Interstate 35 in Round Rock, just north of Austin. The twister damaged homes and businesses.
A Tornado Outbreak in Texas: What to Know
- A cold front coming from the west hit a low-pressure system Monday afternoon. The convergence created several tornadoes.
- Central Texas was hard hit, with funnels touching down to the north and east of Austin.
- There could’ve been what’s called a “long track” tornado that sliced through rural parts of the area.
The tornado action started to the south of Austin, then jumped to the north and east. And because there are so many weather cameras set up around the area, folks watching TV at home could see it live.
The National Weather Service also confirmed a tornado on the ground in Round Rock. It was getting dark as it became safe enough for first responders to check for damage. Another large tornado stayed on the ground east of Round Rock. It was unclear if it was a long-track tornado that stayed active for miles. Or it could’ve been a different tornado. Whichever, the funnel took down the NWS doppler weather radar set up in nearby Granger. The area is part of tornado alley, but it historically doesn’t get this much activity.
At least one weather chasing crew encountered the tornado and filmed it as it sliced through the Texas countryside. KXAN, the NBC affiliate, showed the tornado live on the air.
Witness Said Funnel Formed Over a Target Store
KVUE, the ABC affiliate, had a weather camera posted at the Kalahari Resort in Round Rock. It captured the moment a tornado passed by the hotel.
The Austin American-Statesman talked to Ebereson Iheanacho, who worked at a Sonic Drive-In near where the tornado touched down. He said he saw a tornado form over a Target. “It looked like a blender and we heard strong winds,” he told the Statesman. “I wasn’t scared. I had never seen one before in Texas. This is crazy.”
Iheanacho said the tornado stayed over Target for 15 to 20 seconds then moved behind Sonic and tore through a field. This was all near two major roadways in a city of 125,000 people. “All you heard after was police sirens,” he told the Statesman.
Other tornadoes formed to the east of Austin between Manor and Elgin. The storms then headed east towards Houston.
Earlier Monday, a tornado touched down in Jacksboro, a small town northeast of Fort Worth. The funnel damaged two schools and an animal shelter along with toppling several mobile homes.
A dry line and a cold front were responsible for the weather havoc. The cold front came from the Rockies. It then met a low-pressure system that was pulling moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. It represented perfect conditions to fuel tornadoes. The weather service issued warnings about the weather pattern days ago.
As the system chugged towards Houston, the NWS issued more alerts.
“This is a volatile weather pattern,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. “And we’ve seen these types of storm systems previously produce damaging, dangerous and highly impactful severe weather and flooding,”