Straight-line winds do damage to shopping centers near Folsom and Dowlen in Beaumont

Straight-line winds do damage to shopping centers near Folsom and Dowlen in Beaumont

Bad weather in Beaumont caused quite a stir Thursday, January 21, especially in the shopping centers near the Dowlen Rd. and Folsom Drive intersection, where customers and merchants witnessed shopping carts rolling across the parking lot into parked cars, benches moving, and could hear the more than 50 mph winds roaring. The M from Madison's bar flew off and shattered and Bed Bath and Beyond saw substantial damage to the left side of its front entrance. 

According to Michael Manuel, owner of La-Tee-Da Boutique, at 4004 Dowlen, the wind picked up around 2:54 p.m.

"We felt a rumble and thought the celiing was going to be ripped off," said Manuel, who was in the back of the store with store manage Dana Batiste when he heard the wind pick up. "We both knew what it was. We went to the front of the store because we wanted to get out of the back of the store. We felt the pressure on the back door. We wanted to get out."

"We heard the front door open up and the security system beeped to let us know it was open," said Batiste.

It wasn't a customer this time, however. The strong winds caused of the door to open, which Batiste said she could see after reviewing security camera footage. She could also see shopping carts rolling across the parking lot and one even slam into a parked SUV.  The ruckus didn't seem to bother the store's mascot poodle, Lucy, however, Batiste added.

Next door at Madison's, bartender Lisa Ellison was fixing drinks when the exact same thing happened — the door flew open by itself and even sent debris flying inside the doors of the bar entrance.

"I was pouring a drink at the bar for somebody and saw a gust of wind come through. Our picture at the front was flapping and all this stuff started flying inside," Ellison said.

Ellison said she didn't hear any of the freight train-like roaring noises that are usually associated with a tornado, but did hear the wind blowing really hard.

Felisha Davis, a carrier for The Examiner newspaper, said she was driving down Major Drive near Wesley United Methodist Church about to head down Folsom Drive to deliver papers to the Westfield/ Kroger Shopping Center when she felt her car actually pick up off the ground from the strong winds.

"I was hyperventilating and freaking out," Davis said. "My car just picked up two feet off the ground. Luckily, there was nobody around me. When I got at Bed Bath and Beyond, I saw the front of the building. It shredded the whole front of the building on one side." 

Although many shoppers and merchants in the area thought for sure it had to have been a tornado, KFDM Meteorologist Kerry Cooper told The Examiner there were no tornadoes detected on the radar and the weather occurrence near Folsom and Dowlen was 50 mph straight-line winds.

One thing is for sure, it was a scary experience for many in the area nonetheless.

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