Tornado confirmed in far West SA

Winds peel roofs, lightning blamed for fires, heavy rain triggers flooding

Published On: Jan 25 2012 07:39:32 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 26 2012 06:43:49 AM CST
SAN ANTONIO -

The National Weather Service has preliminarily confirmed a tornado touched down Wednesday morning at the intersection of Deer Park and Richland Hills Drive on San Antonio's far West Side.

While many residents speculated that the damage was from a tornado, it was not until officials from the NWS investigated that a determination was given.

"Part of my job is to actually come out and investigate, 'Was it a microburst? Was it just thunderstorm winds or was it actually a tornado?'" said Paul Yura, warning coordination meteorologist for the Austin/San Antonio National Weather Service.

After collecting clues and matching them with radar returns, Yura was able to make his determination a tornado tore through the neighborhood.

At least nine homes were damaged, but there were no reported injuries. Damage ranged from missing shingles to partially collapsed homes.

Residents described the harrowing moments before the twister touched down. "The electricty had gone off and right after that there was a roar and there was a boom and the house shook and that's when we realized something had happened," said Julie Arenas. "There was a trampoline that ended up on one of the light fixtures and blew out the electricity on that street and that came from a house way down here."

The rain was also proved to be a big problem, leaving many homes flooded. But neighbors said they are glad they made it through the morning. "We were very, very fortunate that nobody in the area got hurt at all, just lots of material damage and that can be fixed," Arenas said.

"Some of the major damage looks like a carport that was tossed up in the air, almost like a kite," said Yura.

The NWS has not determined the strength of the tornado and clean up crews said it may take up to a week for some of the houses to dry out.

Storm knocks power out for thousands

The strong storms packed with high winds, peeling roofs from homes, sparking fires from lightning and dumping heavy rain that triggered flooding in some areas.

CPS Energy electric crews spent much of Wednesday morning restoring power to more than 4,700 customers who experienced outages as a result of lightning, heavy rain and strong winds that blew through the San Antonio area.

According to CPS, at the height of the storms, nearly 26,000 customers were without power.

Nearly one-sixth of the utility’s distribution feeder breakers were affected, CPS said in a statement.

Fallen branches and high winds factored into more than 70 reported downed lines, which can include power, cable or phone service.

Firefighters were also kept busy responding to a pair of fires sparked by lightning.

Residents at the Lincoln Village Apartments in the 1700 block of Jackson Keller were evacuated after lighting struck the roof of a building.

Firefighters were able contain the blaze but not before leaving two apartment units damaged. Residents affected were being assisted by the American Red Cross. Fire officials said no injuries were reported.

High water creates dangerous situations

High water quickly became a major issue for emergency responders after an estimated three inches of rain set the stage for flooding on many roads and streets.

KSAT 12 News cameras caught a high water rescue around 2 a.m. Wednesday at Binz-Engelman and Interstate 35 underneath the railroad tracks.

The driver said she didn't see the high water and since there weren't any barricades, she drove into it and her car stalled.

She managed to get out of the car on her own and rescue crews ushered her to safety. Another vehicle was spotted in the area, but officials said no one was inside it.

A short time later, KSAT 12 News received reports of a high water rescue on the lower level of Interstate 35 and Brooklyn.

A car got stalled in the water but several people pushed it out. There were no reports of any injuries and police quickly barricades up.

KSAT Reporter Justin Horne contributed to this report.