Violent storms ravage Texas, Oklahoma; tornado watch in effect

DALLAS (AP) — Multiple tornadoes tore through parts of Texas and Oklahoma, causing extensive damage and injury to areas near Austin and Dallas, officials said. The storm system was poised to move into Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, bringing the risk of dangerous tornadoes and strong winds.

In Texas, multiple tornadoes were reported on Monday along the Interstate 35 corridor, particularly in the Austin suburbs of Round Rock and Elgin, and in a west-northwest area of ​​Dallas-Fort Worth. Another reported tornado caused damage in the town of Kingston in southern Oklahoma.

At least four people were injured Monday in Texas, officials said.

As of Tuesday morning, the system was bringing heavy rain and thunderstorms to parts of Texas and Arkansas, said Jeremy Grams, chief forecaster at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. A tornado watch was in effect for parts of Texas and Louisiana.

In Louisiana, high water on Tuesday morning posed a threat to motorists on several roads, including a stretch of Interstate 20 and several state highways after overnight rains, authorities said. Deputies from Caddo Parish, which includes Shreveport, rescued three drivers from high water overnight, the predawn sheriff’s office tweeted.

Storms were expected to intensify throughout the day as temperatures rise, increasing the threat of tornadoes, hail and high winds. Much of Louisiana and Mississippi were at moderate risk of severe weather Tuesday, the second-highest risk category released by the Storm Prediction Center.

“We’re still a bit uncertain about the intensity and lifespan of some of these tornadoes, so we’re going to be just below that threshold of greatest risk,” Grams said Tuesday morning.

Federal and state authorities in Louisiana have reminded thousands of hurricane survivors living in government-provided mobile homes and RV trailers to have an evacuation plan as the structures may not hold up to the expected weather conditions. More than 8,000 households live in these temporary accommodations, officials said.

The storm has already left misery in its wake in Texas. Authorities reported damage across Jacksboro, about 100 miles northwest of Fort Worth. There, photographs posted to social media showed a storm ripping the wall and roof off parts of Jacksboro High School, particularly its gym.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” school principal Starla Sanders told WFAA-TV in Dallas.

30 miles (50 kilometers) northeast of Jacksboro, near Bowie, the damage was extensive. Four people were slightly injured, emergency manager Kelly McNabb said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said at a Monday night news conference in Williamson County, a suburb of Austin, that he was grateful no deaths had been reported.

“We know there are a lot of people whose lives have been completely disrupted and people who have lost their homes,” Abbott said. “At the same time…it may also be a miracle, because although there was devastating physical damage, to my knowledge, at this time, there are no reports of loss of life, which is just amazing.”

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Associated Press reporter Julie Walker in New York contributed to this report.

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