Nearly two dozen people were injured after a tornado struck a Texas county Tuesday evening, officials said.
A possible tornado was first reported shortly before 5:40 p.m. near the town of Salado, Bell County Judge David Blackburn said. It traveled about 7 miles, and large trees were torn down and buildings destroyed, he said.
“The damage, while significant, it certainly could have been worse,” he told reporters, adding he was thankful there was no loss of life.
Of the 23 people injured, 12 were taken to area hospitals and one person was in critical condition, he said. The other 11 either did not go to a hospital or were treated and released.
As severe storms swept through Texas, the National Weather Service warned of a confirmed tornado that was moving into southern Bell County, approaching Salado. It urged people to seek shelter and to get into bathtubs.
The government in Salado, population around 2,300, said in a statement that the tornado did not enter the town, which is about 50 miles north of Austin.
Blackburn said “there’s not much left” in the path of the storm.
“Large trees uprooted, overturned, stripped, buildings really reduced to rubble at many locations, power lines, power poles scattered all over the place,” he said.
The weather service will send storm survey teams to Bell and Williamson counties Wednesday to determine the strength and path of the storm.
The possible tornado occurred as the threat of storms and high winds affected a swath of the country from South Dakota and Minnesota to almost the Gulf Coast.
Tornado watches covered parts of Iowa, northeastern Texas, southern Arkansas, and central and northern Louisiana on Tuesday night.
In North Dakota, blizzard conditions reduced visibility to almost zero, the weather service said. Most of Interstate 94, along with other highways and roads, were closed due to life-threatening conditions, the state transportation department said.