‘Never seen anything like this’: Cypress residents take shelter as EF-1 tornado touches down

CYPRESS – The National Weather Service has confirmed a tornado touchdown Thursday evening in the Cypress area.

The NWS is still surveying the area and sending more crews.

Officials have confirmed the strength of the tornado was an EF-1 with associated winds at 110 mph with an estimated width of 100 yards.

“I’ve lived in Houston almost my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Doris Ude, who has lived in the Heritage at Towne Lake neighborhood for 10 years.

She was eating a late lunch Thursday evening when she started receiving alerts on her phone. She looked outside and saw a neighbor, who told her to get to safety.

“I went inside and put my car in the garage and, and then as I was pulling the garage, I wanted to put the garage door down, the power went out,” Ude said.

She was able to close the garage door manually and get to safety in her bathroom.

“It sounded like, like the whole front of the house was crashing in,” she said.

When the noise settled, she found her kitchen covered in insulation and a giant hole in her roof.

“I thought it was ice, which I thought was odd. And then all of a sudden, I looked, and I see a beam poking through the ceiling,” Ude said.

Her roof is partially gone, and the outdoor fence is torn to pieces.

“It can be a very terrifying experience, and it was,” her neighbor Bill Brown, former TV voice of the Astros, said.

He had five windows break and roof damage.

“It’s a little bit like sports. It’s very unpredictable. You can look at all the statistics, all the weather patterns, but that doesn’t tell you what’s going to happen,” Brown said.

Not every home in the 55 and up community had damage, but it’s not far from transmission line towers that toppled, and everyone is dealing with power outages and a lack of cell signal.

“The phone doesn’t work. Google, Facebook, Instagram, you know, nothing works anymore,” said Adela Schott. “All this mess... This is hard for everybody.”

She sat in a car in her driveway to charge her phone on Friday evening, after being caught in the storm on the way home from the grocery store Thursday.

“The wind was really, really bad,” she said. “I’ve never seen this before.”

The neighborhood had several crews hard at work Friday, where cleanup was already underway, and many homeowners are counting their blessings.

“I didn’t get hurt, so I thank God for that,” Ude said.

As for downtown Houston and Baytown, officials have classified this entire event as a derecho, which is a type of straight-line windstorm.

“The straight-line winds and the tornado in some cases were about the same intensity, so they can be equally as damaging,” said Dan Reilly with Houston’s National Weather Service office.

Straight line winds are often mistaken with tornadoes because of the dangerous and destructive nature. Unlike tornadoes straight line winds have no rotation. The powerful winds are often caused when cool dry air builds up in a thunderstorm, eventually it is so cool that it becomes heavy enough to fall out of the storm crashing into warmer air at the surface.

That temperature and density difference accelerates the air to a high-speed leading to damage like we saw in Baytown and Downtown Houston on Thursday.


In Baytown, storm survey reports widespread wind damage from straight-line winds between 90-100 mph. Large hardwood trees snapped and some roof and vehicle damage was reported across the area.

Downtown Houston

The storm survey report from downtown Houston: Significant straight-line winds. Exposed north and west side buildings had windows blown out from winds estimated at around 100 mph.


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I am grateful for the opportunity to share the captivating tales of weather, climate, and science within a community that has undergone the same transformative moments that have shaped my own life.

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