A lethal tornado has devastated Perryton, a small town in northern Texas near the Oklahoma border, resulting in three fatalities and injuries to scores of people. The town, which has approximately 8,000 inhabitants, was in the direct path of an intense storm system that moved across the South.
Support from emergency personnel has been dispatched from neighbouring regions to assist Perryton in the wake of the disaster. The tornado inflicted significant damage on the community, with at least 30 mobile homes receiving a “direct hit” and either being damaged or completely destroyed, as reported by the local fire chief.
According to Paul Dutcher, the Perryton Fire Chief, an additional 75 individuals were transported to the hospital for medical care. Power outages across the area forced Ochiltree General Hospital to run on backup generators, as per a spokesperson.
The National Weather Service (NWS) stated that the tornado made landfall around 17:00 local time on Thursday. Although there were seven total tornado reports, the NWS anticipated the risk of more severe storms to decline over the coming days. There remains a risk of large hail, strong wind gusts, and a few tornadoes from storms that could affect parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, and west Florida on Friday. By Saturday, the risk is primarily expected to be over the Southern Plains, reducing further by Sunday.
By Friday morning, almost 247,000 customers in Texas and Oklahoma were without power, with the Poweroutage.us website reporting another 140,000 experiencing blackouts in Louisiana and 15,000 in Florida.
Simultaneously, a tornado left a nearly four-mile trail of destruction in Eufaula, Alabama, toppling a building and around 40 trees. This marked the fourth time the small town has been hit by a twister in as many years. In neighbouring Georgia, a couple narrowly escaped a collapsing house due to storms in the state’s southwest region. Various parts of the state also reported fallen trees and downed power lines.
Additionally, heat advisories were in effect for over 33 million people across Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, according to the NWS.