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Deadly tornado rips through Texas Panhandle town, leaves “utter devastation”

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A tornado tore through the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton on Thursday, killing three people, injuring dozens more and causing widespread damage as another in a series of fierce storms carved its way through Southern states.

Elsewhere, CBS Mobile, Alabama affiliate WKRG-TV cited Escambia Fire Rescue as confirming one fatality off Coker Land in Pensacola due to a tree falling on a home during storms. Flooding and power outages were reported in Pensacola.

The National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas confirmed that a tornado hit the area Thursday afternoon. But there was no immediate word on its size or wind speeds, meteorologist Luigi Meccariello said.

Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher told reporters three people were killed in the storm.

He said at least one person was killed in a mobile home park that took a “direct hit” from a tornado. Dutcher said at least 30 trailers were damaged or destroyed. At 6 p.m., firefighters were rescuing people from the rubble.

First responders from surrounding areas and from Oklahoma descended on the town, which is home to more than 8,000 people and about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo, just south of the Oklahoma line.

Alex Driggars, a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, posted footage to social media that he said showed Perryton City Hall and the city’s fire station, both of which appeared to have sustained significant damage.

Storm chaser Brian Emfinger told Fox Weather that he watched the twister move through a mobile home park, mangling trailers and uprooting trees.

“I had seen the tornado do some pretty serious destruction to the industrial part of town,” he said. “Unfortunately, just west of there, there is just mobile home, after mobile home, after mobile home that is completely destroyed. There is significant damage.”

Roughly 145,000 customers were without electricity in Texas and Oklahoma as of 1 a.m. EDT, according to the Poweroutage.us website.

Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton said on Facebook, “Walking/wounded please go to the clinic. All others to the hospital ER.”

The hospital also said an American Red Cross shelter had been set up at the Ochiltree County Expo Center.

“We got slammed” with patients, said Kelly Judice, the hospital’s interim CEO.

“We have seen somewhere between 50 and 100 patients,” Judice said, including about 10 in critical condition who were transferred to other hospitals.

Patients had minor to major trauma, ranging from “head injuries to collapsed lungs, lacerations, broken bones,” she said.

Tornado damage in Perryton, Texas
Damage from tornado is seen in Perryton, Texas on June 15, 2023. 

Sabrina Devers / WEATHER TRAKER / TMX


 

Chris Samples of local radio station KXDJ-FM said the station was running on auxiliary power.

“The whole city is out of power,” he said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he had directed the state Division of Emergency Management to help with everything from traffic control to restoring water and other utilities, if needed.

By evening, the weather front was moving southeast across Oklahoma.

Elsewhere in Texas and other Southern states stretching to Florida, heat advisories were in effect Thursday and were forecast into the Juneteenth holiday weekend with temperatures reaching toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was expected to feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The storm system also brought hail and possible tornados to northwestern Ohio.

A barn was smashed and trees toppled in Sandusky County, Ohio, and power lines were downed in northern Toledo, leaving thousands without power. The weather service reported “a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado” over Bellevue and storms showing “signs of rotation” in other areas.

It was the second day in a row that powerful storms struck the U.S. On Wednesday, strong winds toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway from the eastern part of Texas to Georgia.




A tornado tore through the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton on Thursday, killing three people, injuring dozens more and causing widespread damage as another in a series of fierce storms carved its way through Southern states.

Elsewhere, CBS Mobile, Alabama affiliate WKRG-TV cited Escambia Fire Rescue as confirming one fatality off Coker Land in Pensacola due to a tree falling on a home during storms. Flooding and power outages were reported in Pensacola.

The National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas confirmed that a tornado hit the area Thursday afternoon. But there was no immediate word on its size or wind speeds, meteorologist Luigi Meccariello said.

Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher told reporters three people were killed in the storm.

He said at least one person was killed in a mobile home park that took a “direct hit” from a tornado. Dutcher said at least 30 trailers were damaged or destroyed. At 6 p.m., firefighters were rescuing people from the rubble.

First responders from surrounding areas and from Oklahoma descended on the town, which is home to more than 8,000 people and about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo, just south of the Oklahoma line.

Alex Driggars, a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, posted footage to social media that he said showed Perryton City Hall and the city’s fire station, both of which appeared to have sustained significant damage.

Storm chaser Brian Emfinger told Fox Weather that he watched the twister move through a mobile home park, mangling trailers and uprooting trees.

“I had seen the tornado do some pretty serious destruction to the industrial part of town,” he said. “Unfortunately, just west of there, there is just mobile home, after mobile home, after mobile home that is completely destroyed. There is significant damage.”

Roughly 145,000 customers were without electricity in Texas and Oklahoma as of 1 a.m. EDT, according to the Poweroutage.us website.

Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton said on Facebook, “Walking/wounded please go to the clinic. All others to the hospital ER.”

The hospital also said an American Red Cross shelter had been set up at the Ochiltree County Expo Center.

“We got slammed” with patients, said Kelly Judice, the hospital’s interim CEO.

“We have seen somewhere between 50 and 100 patients,” Judice said, including about 10 in critical condition who were transferred to other hospitals.

Patients had minor to major trauma, ranging from “head injuries to collapsed lungs, lacerations, broken bones,” she said.

Tornado damage in Perryton, Texas
Damage from tornado is seen in Perryton, Texas on June 15, 2023. 

Sabrina Devers / WEATHER TRAKER / TMX


 

Chris Samples of local radio station KXDJ-FM said the station was running on auxiliary power.

“The whole city is out of power,” he said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he had directed the state Division of Emergency Management to help with everything from traffic control to restoring water and other utilities, if needed.

By evening, the weather front was moving southeast across Oklahoma.

Elsewhere in Texas and other Southern states stretching to Florida, heat advisories were in effect Thursday and were forecast into the Juneteenth holiday weekend with temperatures reaching toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was expected to feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The storm system also brought hail and possible tornados to northwestern Ohio.

A barn was smashed and trees toppled in Sandusky County, Ohio, and power lines were downed in northern Toledo, leaving thousands without power. The weather service reported “a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado” over Bellevue and storms showing “signs of rotation” in other areas.

It was the second day in a row that powerful storms struck the U.S. On Wednesday, strong winds toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway from the eastern part of Texas to Georgia.

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