A tornado struck the city of Perryton in the Texas Panhandle on Thursday, resulting in the tragic loss of three lives and leaving more than 50 individuals injured, according to officials.
At approximately 5:10 p.m., the tornado descended upon Perryton, a city with a population of around 8,500, as reported by Trent Hoffeditz, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service in Amarillo.
Paul Dutcher, the Fire Chief of Perryton, confirmed the deaths of three individuals, emphasizing that a trailer park had suffered a direct impact from the tornado. He described the tornado’s path as crossing the city from northwest to southeast. Two people were reported missing in the aftermath of the destructive event.
Ochiltree General Hospital, located in Perryton, admitted over 50 patients for treatment. The injuries ranged from minor cuts and bruises to severe conditions, with several critical patients being transferred to other hospitals, as stated by Amie Marrufo, a spokesperson for the hospital. Fortunately, around 56 individuals were treated and discharged.
Eyewitness footage depicted significant damage in downtown Perryton, including uprooted trees, demolished homes, and at least one overturned truck.
State Representative Four Price, who represents the affected area, urged people to keep the Perryton community in their prayers through social media, as many structures suffered damage.
Although the city experienced a power outage, Mayor Kerry Symons assured the public that water service was being maintained through the use of generators.
Governor Greg Abbott instructed the Texas Division of Emergency Management to provide assistance, including road crews and engineers, to the affected area.
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Ochiltree County Sheriff Terry Bouchard informed media that the tornado had caused substantial damage, particularly to mobile homes and businesses.
Governor Abbott released a statement expressing his readiness to offer additional resources during this severe weather event and asked all Texans to join him in praying for those affected by the devastating storm.
The Texas A&M Task Force 1 and Task Force 2, specialized urban search and rescue teams, were dispatched to the area under the guidance of the state Division of Emergency Management.
Based on video and photo evidence, meteorologists believe that a tornado struck the city. However, the extent of its strength will only be determined after damage surveys are conducted.
The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Perryton and later confirmed the occurrence of a tornado north of the town.
Emergency managers and officials in neighboring Hansford County were alerted and prepared to respond to potential mass casualties or recovery efforts, according to Hansford County Judge Tim Glass.
The sheriff’s office in nearby Hutchinson County, along with other agencies, expressed their intent to provide assistance in the Perryton area, referring to the tornado as “devastating” on their Facebook page.
The Texas Panhandle experienced a particularly wet May, which, combined with atmospheric instability and lift, created favorable conditions for thunderstorms, explained Trent Hoffeditz. An upper-level system also contributed to the formation of the tornado.
As storms dissipated by Thursday night, the National Weather Service in Amarillo announced that they had departed the Panhandle. However, tornado watches remained in effect for parts of Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth region.
Damage surveys will be conducted to assess the tornado’s strength and determine its rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale, added Hoffeditz.