Texans and other southern US residents were bracing this weekend for severe storms and weather – including Panhandle town Perryton, which suffered three fatalities just days earlier when an EF-3 tornado barrelled through it.
Weather systems “capable of damaging gusts, large hail, or tornadoes will be possible over a vast area from” Colorado to Florida and central Texas to the Lower Missouri Valley and the Midwest, the National Weather Service tweeted on Saturday. Very large hail “will be possible” in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, as well as along the eastern Gulf Coast, the tweet continued.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center warned on Twitter of “widespread severe storms” that are “expected from the Plains to the Gulf Coast with damaging gusts (75+ mph) very large hail and a few tornadoes” on Saturday afternoon and evening.
The majority of the storms were expected during the later afternoon and evening hours, with the highest risk “centered across the lower Mississippi River Valley, including Arkansas, much of Mississippi, and northern Louisiana as the storms from the previous night move eastward during the early morning,” CNN reported.
Texas has already suffered significant damage this week, with 11-year-old Matthew Ramirez among three people killed by the massive tornado which tore through Perryton on Thursday. He was tragically found in a trailer park, while Becky Randall, a woman in her 60s, was found in a print shop, and Cindy Bransgrove, also in her 60s, was discovered in a food bank, Ochiltree County Sheriff Terry Bouchard said.
The twister hit Perryton, a town of around 8,000 people close to the Oklahoma border, on Thursday just after 5pm local time, leaving a quarter-mile trail of destruction according to the National Weather Service.
A mobile home park took a “direct hit” from the tornado, Perryton Fire Chief Paul Dutcher said. In addition to the fatalities, up to 100 people were being treated for injuries ranging from minor to severe.
More than 300,000 people remained without power on Saturday across Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, according to Poweroutage.us, as storms continued to threaten the area and wider region.
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