Tornado behavior and history in the Houston area

HOUSTON – When we consider the spectrum of extreme weather in Houston, our minds often gravitate towards hurricanes.

However, it’s crucial to remember that tornadoes can also strike in southeast Texas.

Wednesday morning an EF-1 tornado ripped through a Katy neighborhood in western Harris County. The National Weather Service reported winds of 90 mph, a force that left a trail of destruction spanning 1.67 miles. Part of a Firestone building is now reduced to rubble, an industrial-sized AC unit flung through the air, and shingles lofted into the sky.

“I hope it never comes through again. I mean, this is terrible,” said Sharon Potts, a Katy resident.

She was one of many people who stopped into the shopping center to visit a store, but it was closed because there was still no power as clean-up continued the day after.

Wednesday’s tornado is Harris County’s first tornado of 2024 and hopefully the last for the year.

Is it normal for Houston to see tornadoes?

The answer is yes.

Houston has seen 247 tornadoes from 1950 to 2023.

That’s an average of 3 tornadoes per year.

Most of the tornadoes over the last 70 years are on the weaker side of the scale, landing in the EF-0 or EF-1 category for nearly 200 out of 247.

Luckily, Harris County has never experienced an EF-5 tornado.

Regardless of the strength or frequency, it is essential to stay prepared.

If you’re at home or your place of work, places where you spend a lot of time, you should know what to do. If a tornado warning is issued, you want to get as low as you can, put as many walls between you and the tornado as possible, and you’ll be, you know, your chances of survival and not getting hurt increased dramatically if you do those simple things,” said NOAAS Research Scientist Dr. Harold Brooks.

You also want to make sure you have a way to get alerts. A weather radio or cellphone with apps like our Storm Tracker 2 App can alert you when severe weather is in your area.

About the Author

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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