Strong winds ripped through the area Monday night, sending Houston residents for cover and causing thousands of dollars of damage as the threat of rare winter tornadoes loomed.
The city’s tornado sirens sounded twice early Tuesday morning as threatening weather approached Texas County. About people reportedly sought shelter at the town’s recently built storm shelter.
Houston avoided tornadoes that swept through southwest Missouri and killed at least two people and tipped over homes. But there was still evidence of dangerous weather.
Trees were knocked over and a power line hugged the ground along Hwy. 17 just west of Houston’s city limits. Intercounty Electric Cooperative crews were on the scene Tuesday morning attempting to restore power.
Pieces of metal hangars at the Houston Municipal Airport were flung into neighboring yards and throughout the Houston Housing Authority. One giant piece smashed a car’s windshield.
Part of the copper roof was missing at city hall and a water pump was damaged.
Bill Nichols, emergency preparedness director, said the city sustained an estimated $250,000 – $300,000 in damage.
Trees were uprooted in many places throughout town. A large tree at the corner of Ozark and Bryan streets fell partially in the road and impeded two-way traffic as school began.
Lynn Gayer walked out of his home Tuesday morning at 517 Hawthorn and found his neighbor’s trampoline laying across the hood of his pickup. A power line also dangled alongside the vehicle.
A portion of fencing at the swimming pool was knocked over.
The tornadoes came as record high winter temperatures were reported across wide areas of the country. Tornadoes were reported or suspected Monday in southwest Missouri, southeastern Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma.
Meteorologists said the unusual weather was the result of warm, moist air moving from the south that brought temperatures hovering near 70 degrees on Sunday and Monday.