Tornado devastates Texas Panhandle town, killing 3 and injuring dozens

Buildings and vehicles damaged by a tornado
A tornado devastated the Texas Panhandle town of Perryton and killed three people.
(David Erickson / Associated Press)
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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 series of fierce storms carved its way through Southern states.

The National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas, confirmed that a tornado hit the area shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday. Local officials said Thursday night that two people were missing.

Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher said three people were killed, including at least one person who died in a mobile home park that took a “direct hit” from a tornado. Dutcher said at least 30 trailers were damaged or destroyed.


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

Mobile homes were ripped apart and pickup trucks with shattered windshields were slammed against mounds of rubble in residential areas.

Perryton’s downtown also was walloped. About two blocks of businesses were heavily damaged, including an office supply store, a floral shop and a hair salon along the town’s Main Street. A minivan was shoved into the outer wall of a theater.

The region averages one to two tornadoes a year, but the twister that hit Montebello this week was the Los Angeles area’s strongest since 1983.

March 23, 2023

With a few hours of daylight left after the storm passed through, broken windows were being boarded up.

The Ochiltree County Sheriff’s Department said it would enforce a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday because of downed power lines and other dangers that might not be visible in the dark.

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.”

Strong storms including tornadoes, winds and hail have moved through parts of the central U.S., killing at least three people and destroying homes.

April 20, 2023

There was no immediate word on the tornado’s size or wind speeds, meteorologist Luigi Meccariello said.

About 475,000 customers were without electricity in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Oklahoma as of Friday morning, according to the website.

“We have seen somewhere between 50 and 100 patients,” said Kelly Judice, the interim chief executive of Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton. Those include about 10 people 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.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday that 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 Thursday evening, the weather front was moving southeast across Oklahoma. On Friday, scattered strong-to-severe thunderstorms were forecast for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and some other states.

Elsewhere in Texas and other Southern states, including Louisiana, heat advisories were in effect Friday and were forecast into the Juneteenth holiday weekend, with temperatures approaching 100 degrees.

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

Southern California can expect some slightly warmer temperatures and glimpses of sunshine over the next few days, after weeks of overcast weather.

June 12, 2023

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 United States. On Wednesday, strong winds toppled trees, damaged buildings and blew cars off a highway from the eastern part of Texas to Georgia.