(Adds tornado watch, update on power outages)
By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas, March 29 Four people were killed
and nearly 70,000 customers were without electricity on
Wednesday after storms pounded Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana
with tornadoes, torrential rain and hail.
Three storm chasers trying to track tornadoes in the Texas
Panhandle region died when two cars they were in slammed into
each other near Spur on Tuesday night, police said.
In Oklahoma, a truck driver was killed near El Reno in a
roll-over crash likely caused by high winds, police said.
One tornado that snapped power poles and trees was reported
in Texas on Wednesday about 85 miles (140 km) northeast of
Houston, the National Weather Service said. The service issued a
tornado watch for eastern Texas, extending into large parts of
Louisiana. It also issued a tornado watch for parts of Oklahoma,
Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri.
There were 15 reports of tornadoes from the storms overnight
on Tuesday in Texas, with most of the twisters in the Panhandle
and western parts of the state, the National Weather Service
said. Hail, some as large as baseballs, pounded Texas, Oklahoma
and Kansas overnight causing damage to cars.
The system took a heavy toll on utilities in North Texas,
where provider Oncor said about 50,000 of its
customers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area were without power as of
Wednesday afternoon. Also thousands of other customers in Texas,
Oklahoma and Louisiana were without power, various utilities
The storms led to nearly 70 flight cancellations at airports
in Houston as of 4 p.m. CST (2100 GMT), tracking service
A number of school closed in North Texas on Wednesday
morning due to lack of power, causing delays for students taking
an annual achievement test known as STAAR, or the State of Texas
Assessments of Academic Readiness.
"Storms throughout Texas yesterday and today? Proof that God
doesn't like #STAAR either! #imateacher," Twitter user @kekis26
wrote on the social media site.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Lisa
Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Andrea Ricci and James