Devastating Tornado Hits Perryton, Texas: 3 Dead, Dozens Injured

A destructive tornado wreaked havoc in the town of Perryton, located in the Texas Panhandle, resulting in the loss of three lives and leaving dozens injured. This catastrophic event unfolded as a series of severe storms battered the Southern states.
A vehicle and buildings are damaged in Perryton, Texas, after a tornado struck Thursday, June 15, 2023.
Credit: AP Photo/David Erickson

Confirming the tornado’s occurrence, the National Weather Service in Amarillo stated that it struck the area shortly after 5 p.m. on Thursday. Local authorities reported two missing individuals by Thursday night.

Perryton’s Fire Chief, Paul Dutcher, sadly announced that three people had perished, with one fatality reported in a mobile home park that suffered a direct hit from the tornado. Moreover, approximately 30 trailers were either damaged or completely destroyed.

Promptly responding to the emergency, first responders from neighboring towns, cities, and even Oklahoma rushed to Perryton. The town, home to over 8,000 residents, is situated about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo, just south of the Oklahoma border.

Mobile homes were torn apart, and pickup trucks with shattered windshields were forcefully slammed into piles of debris within residential areas.

Perryton’s downtown area also suffered significant damage. Several businesses along Main Street, including an office supply store, a floral shop, and a hair salon, incurred extensive destruction. The exterior wall of a theater was even struck by a minivan.

In the remaining daylight hours after the storm had passed, efforts were underway to board up broken windows.

Due to the presence of downed power lines and other hidden hazards in the dark, the Ochiltree County Sheriff’s Department implemented a curfew from midnight to 6 a.m. on Friday.

Storm chaser Brian Emfinger, speaking to Fox Weather, described witnessing the tornado tear through a mobile home park, causing trailers to crumble and trees to uproot.

“I witnessed the tornado unleash significant devastation in the industrial part of town,” Emfinger recounted. “Unfortunately, just west of there, countless mobile homes were completely obliterated.”

Meteorologist Luigi Meccariello stated that the tornado’s size and wind speeds had yet to be determined.

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

Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton posted on Facebook, urging those with minor injuries to visit the clinic and directing others to the hospital’s emergency room.

Kelly Judice, the hospital’s interim CEO, disclosed that they had received and treated between 50 and 100 patients, including around 10 individuals in critical condition who were subsequently transferred to different medical facilities. The injuries ranged from minor to severe, encompassing head injuries, collapsed lungs, lacerations, and broken bones.

The hospital also mentioned the establishment of an American Red Cross shelter at the Ochiltree County Expo Center.

Chris Samples, from local radio station KXDJ-FM, informed listeners that the station was currently operating on backup power.

“The entire city is without electricity,” Samples informed the public.

Expressing concern for the affected area, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that the state Division of Emergency Management had been directed to assist with various tasks, including traffic control and the restoration of water and other utilities if necessary.

The weather front moved southeast across Oklahoma by evening. On Friday, scattered strong to severe thunderstorms were predicted for parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and other states.

In addition to Texas and Louisiana, Southern states were under heat advisories on Friday, with the high temperatures anticipated to persist through the Juneteenth holiday weekend. Thermometers were expected to climb toward 100 degrees Fahrenheit, with a heat index making it feel as hot as 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

The storm system also brought hail and potential tornadoes to northwestern Ohio. Reports from Sandusky County indicated a demolished barn and uprooted trees, while northern Toledo experienced downed power lines, leaving thousands without electricity. The weather service issued warnings of a severe thunderstorm capable of producing a tornado in Bellevue and identified other areas displaying signs of rotational activity.

These powerful storms marked the second consecutive day of severe weather across the United States. On Wednesday, strong winds uprooted trees, damaged buildings, and even caused vehicles to be blown off a highway stretching from eastern Texas to Georgia.

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