HOUSTON - Nearly 70,000 Houston-area customers were without electricity in the early morning hours Thursday, CenterPoint Energy reported on its website.

Wind gusts between 25 and 40 miles per hour caused power lines to short out. Several trees were also split in two across the area.

Drivers on the Southwest Freeway reported seeing bright flashes of light as the power lines touched.

Dallas-based Oncor on Thursday reported more than 42,000 electric outages in North Texas. Most outages were in the Dallas area. Utility spokeswoman Jamie Molina says strong winds during overnight storms left some power lines down.

Austin Energy early Thursday reported nearly 4,900 customers without electricity in Central Texas.

The Department of Public Safety says a dust storm Wednesday afternoon in West Texas triggered a series of traffic accidents on Interstate 27 north of Lubbock. The crashes left one traveler dead and at least 17 hurt.

The gusty winds will hold strong through most of the day before finally dying down Thursday evening.

The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for southeast Texasthat was set to expire at 6 p.m. The advisory was later upgraded to a wind warning, which means wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour were confirmed.

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