Rare tornado surprises Crossroads (Video)

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

May 26, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.

A short-lived tornado took a swipe at an open field northeast of Victoria on Saturday, dodging all structures and causing no injuries but kicking up dirt and debris visible for miles.

Douglas Vogelsang of the National Weather Service said he was uncertain about the tornado's time on the ground but speculated that it lasted only a couple of minutes after it touched down at 1:47 p.m. Tornadoes are a rare weather phenomenon in South Texas unless part of a hurricane system.

The funnel's velocity had not been determined, but it was part of a storm system that taunted parts of the Crossroads throughout Saturday. Tornado warnings were issued for Goliad and Refugio counties based on radar activity, as well as threats of funnel clouds forming. But no other tornados were confirmed.

With the wind came between 1.6 and 3.4 inches of rain in the city of Victoria that caused low-level street flooding in various parts of the city of Victoria but still caused no significant injuries.

One road closed 6 miles southeast of Victoria near the intersection of Guadalupe and York roads. Water was reported on many other roads, but they remained passable.

Goliad County saw between 1 and 6 inches of rain, and Cuero received an inch. Port Lavaca did not register any rainfall.

"At this time, there are no concerns about flooding in the Victoria area," said Patrick Sneeringer, hydrologist at the National Weather Service West Gulf River Forecast Center.

The Guadalupe River rose a foot and a half because of the rain and is expected to rise another couple of feet in the next few days as a result of runoff from the heavy flooding in the San Antonio area, said Jeb Lacey, emergency management coordinator for Victoria County.

The level will remain well below any cause for concern, he said.

"Be cautious, especially around creeks and streams immediately following heavy rains," Lacey said.

San Antonio received 9 inches of rain in three to four hours. The major flooding is on the San Antonio River because of torrential rains and flooding in San Antonio, which could affect Goliad.

The runoff will not reach Goliad for at least three days.

Saturday's rain caused events to slow down for the holiday weekend.

At the Victoria County Club, site of the Victoria City Championship, play was suspended twice because of the inclement weather.

Joe Mitchell, head golf professional at the country club, said procedures are put in place with weather delays. Play for the women's side will finish Saturday, Mitchell said.

"In any lightning situation, we try to get them off the course," said Mitchell. "We try to get them off 10 to 15 minutes prior to lightning touching. We blow the horn three times to get people off the golf course."

At Riverside Park, the 2013 Memorial Weekend Bash was postponed because of the rain. Organizers are asking ticketholders to watch for rescheduling information.

Over-the-air television transmissions were down because of the weather, but an official at the Victoria Television Group said all the signals except ABC, Fox and CBS were back up before 11 p.m.

When the tornado touched down, Victoria residents who could see it began recording the rare event.

Janet Stubbs, co-owner of Dale's Fun Center, noticed vehicles stopping and passengers staring at her business on North Navarro Street. Perplexed, she and a handful of others walked outside to find the twister touching down behind the building.

This was not Stubbs' first tornado.

In 2003, a tornado ripped off the roof and blew out the windows of her former business on Rio Grande Street during Hurricane Claudette.

"Ten years later and here we are again," Stubbs said.

A mechanic alerted them that the tornado had already dissipated before they were able to evacuate.

Many area residents saw and snapped photographs of the whirlwind.

Pattie Verdecanna, of Port Lavaca, was near the Tractor Supply on North Navarro with her daughter and three grandchildren when they noticed it.

"I guess we were a little scared, but it was quite a distance away," Verdecanna said. "We watched it for a while. The boys (ages 5 and 7) were fascinated. They had never seen a tornado."

Brittany Thompson, 24, of Edna, caught the image on her iPhone from the passenger-side window of her father's car. They were about a mile north of the airport as they traveled down U.S. Highway 59 toward Victoria.

"My 1-year-old and 2-year-old daughters kept saying, 'I see one; I see one,'" Thompson said. "They didn't really know what they were looking for."



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