Q&A with NWS Meteorologist Jeff Evans after straight-line winds wreak havoc in downtown Houston

After a tumultuous night of storms throughout Harris County, many Houstonians have begun the process of cleaning up.

As those efforts are underway, KPRC 2′s Zachery Lashway spoke to National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Evans about how last night’s intense storms impacted communities and how the NWS managed the unparallel conditions.

Zachery Lashway: Talk to us about what’s happening today.

Jeff Evans: So, we’re out in the field today, trying to determine exactly what went through Houston last night. Everything we’re seeing outside of the Cypress area is straight line winds. It surprises people, because of the magnitude of the damage, they think it had to be a tornado. But people don’t really realize what 109 mile-per-hour straight-line winds can really do. This structure right here is an example of that. This is actually straight-line winds that blew through here. That’s what we saw through downtown all the way through to Baytown.

Zachery Lashway: Sadly, these are proving to be deadly for us here in Houston?

Jeff Evans: Yes, they can be, unfortunately. The one thing that we take solace in is our relationship with y’all, with, the first responders. We don’t measure

Zachery Lashway: Getting the word out, being proactive.

Jeff Evans: So, we were issuing warnings to make sure it triggered on people’s cell phones. We were just we used a destructive severe thunderstorm tech for the first time ever for the City of Houston, just to make sure we blew up those phones.

Zachery Lashway: I heard Judge Lina Hidalgo talking about that in her news conference today. Obviously elected officials encouraging people to stay out of that downtown area. Cleanup continues. It could be weeks before people are back online, people without power. You mentioned the only tornadic activity we’ve seen was out in Cypress. What was the situation there?

Jeff Evans: So, I haven’t been on the on the ground there—we have a team up there. But what they look for is the nature of the damage. And we can look at the building here. This was being blown in the direction the storm was moving. That’s a strong indication the straight-line winds, had this been blown opposite the way the storm was moving, then you had to have had that rotation. And that’s how we determine a tornado.

Zachery Lashway: And that’s the rotation we saw out in Cypress.

Jeff Evans: That’s what we saw out in Cypress.

Zachery Lashway: Along 290, that area?

Jeff Evans: Yes. It’s right up there. And we’ll see the details on that this afternoon. Okay.

About the Authors

Michael is a Kingwood native who loves shooting hoops, visiting local breweries and overreacting to Houston sports. He joined the KPRC family in the spring of 2024. He earned his B.A. from Texas A&M University in 2022 and his M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2023.

Zachery “Zach” Lashway anchors KPRC 2+ Now. He began at KPRC 2 as a reporter in October 2021.

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