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Feb 20, 7:10 PM EST

Storms, tornadoes damage dozens of homes in San Antonio area


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SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Severe storms that pushed several tornadoes through parts of Central Texas ripped the roofs from homes and damaged dozens of other houses and apartments in San Antonio and toppled auto-carrier cars of a freight train near Austin, authorities said Monday.

No major injuries were reported from the storms, which officials estimate damaged at least 150 structures, most of them homes in the San Antonio area, late Sunday and early Monday. The National Weather Service has confirmed at least six tornadoes touched down, though not all in populated areas.

A survey team confirmed that a tornado with winds hitting 105 mph struck a residential area about 5 miles north of downtown San Antonio around midnight. Of the 43 homes damaged in the area, three fully collapsed, said San Antonio Fire Department spokesman Woody Woodward.

Local resident Lucy Duncan said peered out the window of her home as the storm ramped up, and she saw only a white mist. She said she and her husband quickly rounded up their children and hid under mattress in an interior hallway - just before the roof was torn from their home.

"We didn't know what was going on at that point. We started to hear the electricity popping and we thought the house had caught fire," she told KENS-TV of San Antonio.

Eight buildings in a nearby apartment complex were severely damaged, with some roofs stripped from the buildings and a couple of building partially collapsed, Woodward said.

Five minor injuries were reported in the area. Crews estimating the damage said preliminary reports indicate the tornado left a 4-mile track.

Another tornado briefly touched down about 5 miles northeast of San Antonio International Airport. Woodward had no reports of damage from that area, but photos show tall steel towers carrying high-voltage electric transmission lines toppled or buckled in half.

Citywide, he estimated that more than 100 structures were damaged.

Another 30 to 40 homes were damaged in two adjoining subdivisions about 10 miles northeast of downtown in Bexar County, where forecasters said a weak tornado left a roughly 1-mile track.

A dozen auto-carrier cars of a Union Pacific freight train were blown from their track northeast of Austin near the tiny town of Thrall, where at least two tornadoes touched down early Monday, according to Williamson County officials. The county said about 20 homes were damaged, and the local fire chief said several barns and outbuildings also were damaged.

Power outages in the San Antonio area peaked at more than 47,000 customers early Monday morning, mostly in the area hit by the tornadoes. The outages had dropped to about 6,000 by late Monday afternoon, according to CPS Energy, the utility serving the area.

At least one high-voltage transmission tower in northeastern San Antonio was bent in half.

The storms moved southeast by midday Monday, bringing steady rain to the area but no severe weather.

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