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EF3 tornado ripped through Deer Park, Pasadena, NWS confirms

The tornado had a maximum wind speed of 140 mph and an estimated path length of 18 miles.

HOUSTON — The storms are gone but there's a path of destruction that will take weeks to clean up after homes and businesses were shredded by tornados that swept across the Houston area Tuesday.

The National Weather Service in Houston confirmed Wednesday that an EF3 tornado ripped through Pasadena and Deer Park with an estimated maximum path length of 18 miles. The NWS said the maximum path width of the tornado was 0.66 miles and the maximum wind speed was 140 mph. 

In a Public Information Statement released by the NWS Survey Teams Thursday we are getting new details on the tornado track.

The tornado that impacted Pasadena / Deer Park touched down near El Franco Lee Park east of Brookside Village around 2:15PM Tuesday. Survey teams observed a near-continuous path of damage that extended through Pasadena, Deer Park and onto Baytown. 

Most of the damage along the 18 mile path was rated EF0 and EF1, it peaked at an EF3 northeast of Deer Park just before crossing the Houston Ship Channel. Teams observed high tension electrical towers that had been flattened indicating the presence of 140mph EF3 winds at that time.

The tornado then lifted northwest of Baytown around 2:50PM Tuesday.

Tornadoes are graded on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. An EF3 tornado can have winds between 136 to 165 mph. 

School was canceled Wednesday for roughly 25,000 students with Deer Park and Pasadena ISDs. Pasadena ISD is reporting damage to at least four schools. Representatives will be out in the next few hours checking all of their schools for student safety.

READ: Here's the path a tornado took through the Houston area

READ: 'Tornado Emergency' issued in Houston area for first time

Below is a look at some of the tornado damage from Air 11.

The KHOU 11 Weather Team was tracking the likely path of the tornado as it moved across the southeast region.

Shelter for tornado victims in Pasadena

The Red Cross opened a shelter inside the Baker Ripley building located at 720 Fairmont Parkway Tuesday night. The shelter quickly filled, which led the Red Cross to open a second shelter to accommodate all the storm victims.

Both shelters are located along Fairmont Parkway, and Memorial Baptist Church is also providing shelter and food.

Doors opened at 9 p.m. and since then, dozens of displaced families are getting assistance, including about 25 to 50 people who were bused here Tuesday night after the tornado destroyed an apartment complex in Houston.

This shelter is crucial right now because so many folks need help including those living in Pasadena. The storm left behind a trail of destruction in this area, ripping apart homes and cars and toppling trees and power lines.

Folks living in the area spent the night sorting through the debris, grateful to have made it out alive.

"We couldn't even see which way it was coming from. We couldn't see anything. It just went white. Everything went white, explosions were happening. It was terrifying, it really was," Jack Kruse, resident, said. "It was the most scary thing in my life, but thank God we are here, sound and alive."

Volunteers will also be providing cleaning kits. In addition, the Pasadena Salvation Army is also providing food and help.

Deer Park residents share survival stories

With the storm damage left behind in Deer Park, people who live here say it’s a miracle no one was killed.

One father said his son was trapped in his car right as the storm came through, and he held on to dear life when the airbags deployed.

Residents are sharing survival stories from the moments this tornado ripped through the heart of Deer Park.

The roof was ripped off an apartment and a woman was pinned down by a flying door. She was rescued by her neighbors.

Around the corner at a strip mall off Center Street, while a man huddled in a destroyed medical clinic with other patients, his teenage son was stranded in his car as the tornado threw chunks of metal and debris everywhere.

The city of Deer Park said they plan to rebuild and are just grateful everyone is OK. City facilities will be closed Wednesday as they evaluate the damage.

Power outages in Houston

Some of the power lines were still down Wednesday morning, leaving many families in the dark. At one point Tuesday, more than 100,000 homes and businesses were without power.

Many of those customers have now had their power restored.

When it comes to CenterPoint, there are about 21,000 customers still without power as of 1 p.m. Most of those families are around Pasadena and Deer Park.

CenterPoint said they're deploying 24 crews to those areas to get the lights back on.

Here is their latest statement:

"Our crews worked overnight to safely restore service to more than 15,000 impacted customers across the greater Houston area. In the past 24 hours, CenterPoint Energy has been able to restore power to nearly 217,000 customers. As we complete our system damage assessments, we are finding significant damage to our infrastructure in those areas impacted by the tornado. Our crews are committed to restoring service to our customers as safely and quickly as possible."

You can also check out the Entergy  Entergy outage map.

Latest updates

3:37 PM: The National Weather Service confirms the damage in Pasadena and Deer Park is consistent with an EF3 tornado. Meteorologist Tim Pandajis said this is the first EF-3 in the Houston area since 2020.

12:30 PM: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said a representative from the White House reached out Wednesday morning to get an assessment of what we’re dealing with in the region.

“I told her about the impact on the southern end of the city of Houston as well as Deer Park and Pasadena,” Turner said.

He said FEMA also contacted him. Despite the widespread destruction, Turner said it was a miracle that there were no deaths or serious injuries.

“No one was killed and very few injured,” Turner said. “That’s a blessing in and of itself… It’s just miraculous.”

The Solid waste department is working to remove debris from neighborhoods. 

12:05 PM: Pasadena officials gave an update on the tornado damage and spoke about community resources. Mayor Jeff Wagner said the Baker Ripley shelter is completely full. A secondary shelter is being sought. Pasadena Fire Chief Lanny Armstrong said people to stay out of damaged neighborhoods. He added that downed utilities were among the biggest priorities. “Absolutely miraculous” no one was seriously hurt, he said.

11:40 AM: A couple in Pasadena told KHOU 11 reporter Michelle Choi that they huddled in their bathtub with their two dogs during the tornado. Their rental home was destroyed. They had been living there since they lost their previous home to a fire.

11 AM: Deer Park Mayor Jerry Mouton said most of the city facilities will be closed today and that they will be assessing if they'll be able to open tomorrow. Power is still out; facilities are running on generators. The city has transitioned the city website to be a news outlet on the tornado, cleanup, and recovery.  

10:05 AM: Houston Police Chief Troy Finner has arrived at the Beamer Place apartments where he will be surveying the area. So far, no residents are allowed inside the complex. They’re asking residents to go to the church next door and get information from the complex.

10 AM: The NWS in Houston is here at the Pasadena Animal Shelter surveying damage.

8:50 AM: NWS Houston survey teams can confirm at least EF2 damage so far in southeast Houston. They said they will continue to provide additional updates as our meteorologists continue to conduct surveys today. 

8:40 AM: The Houston SPCA took in 27 cats from the Pasadena Animal Shelter. The shelter was ripped a part by Tuesday’s tornado. They still have about 40 dogs that need a place to go. The good news is that none of the animals were injured.

7:20 AM: Residents were up early this morning, cleaning up the debris left behind here at the Parkgate neighborhood in Pasadena. Several homes in this area were destroyed by a tornado that ripped through this region. 

6:05 AM: Bush Airport broke a daily record for a rain event with more than 4 inches of rainfall. Tomball and Cypress reported more than 5 inches. Hobby Aiport reported winds of 60 mph.

6:50 AM: A KHOU 11 viewer shared Ring doorbell video of Tuesday's storm as it blew through. Trees in front of the home are bent perpendicular as the strong storms push through.

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