Houston braces for floods and tornadoes as 5 million people under weather warning

Firefighters gain upper hand over historic fires that erupted last week

People survey damage to a shopping centre after a tornado touched down in Round Rock, Texas. Reuters
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The threat of tornadoes and strong thunderstorms loomed over the southern US on Tuesday, a day after the same system produced reported twisters that destroyed homes and injured several people.

The system was expected to drop 8-13 centimetres of rain and produce strong winds of up to 72 kilometres per hour as it sweeps through Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi and into the Tennessee valley throughout the day, the National Weather Service said.

The service issued thunderstorm, tornado, high wind and flood advisories for about five million people for Tuesday morning and throughout the day.

The storms were spawned by a clash of weather systems rolling in from the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico. Houston, the fourth-largest US city, braced for heavy rain, slashing winds and dangerous hail through Tuesday morning, the US Storm Prediction Centre said.

There were 22 reports of tornadoes, mainly across eastern Texas, as well as one in Oklahoma, the centre reported, and added that at least three people were injured by the storms.

In the northern Texas town of Jacksboro, a twister touched down, raking homes, a high school and an animal shelter.

Elsewhere, parts of the Texas panhandle were under a winter weather advisory, with additional snowfall and winds as high 88.5kph.

The wild weather was evident in Amarillo, where a high temperature of 18.9°C was posted and a low of 0.6°C. The city set a rainfall record for the date of 2.9cm and a snowfall record for the date of 7.8cm.

Statewide, the number of homes and businesses without power stood at about 59,000 by 7.49am local time, PowerOutage.us showed.

Texas firefighters gained the upper hand over historic fires as violent weather closed in on urban centres and residents in some regions sought shelter from tornadoes.

The largest cluster of blazes that erupted last week in Eastland County, in the central part of the state, was 60 per cent contained as of late Monday, the Texas A&M Forest Service said in a tweet.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: March 22, 2022, 2:55 PM