Tornadoes with hurricane-force winds, softball-sized hail strike Texas town
A supercell struck Matador killing at least 4 people and causing widespread destruction
By Ken Miller and Sarah Brumfield
MATADOR, Texas — A line of severe storms produced what a meteorologist calls a rare combination of multiple tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and softball-sized hail in northwest Texas, killing at least four people and causing significant damage around the town of Matador.
A supercell developed about 8 p.m. Wednesday near Amarillo before striking Matador, killing four people, injuring nine and causing widespread damage, said senior forecaster Matt Ziebell with the National Weather Service in Lubbock.
The storm later produced 109 mph (175 kph) winds at Jayton in addition to the 4-inch (10.2-centimeter) or larger hail, according to Ziebell.
“That is certainly rare to see all at the same time, killer tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and softball-sized hail,” Zeibell said.
Wednesday “was definitely a rare combination of high-end wind shear and storms of extreme instability,” according to Ziebell.
There were widespread power outages across the region, with more than 900 customers without power in the Matador and Jayton areas, according to poweroutage.us.
The worst damage appeared to be in Matador — a town of about 570 people 70 miles (112 kilometers) northeast of Lubbock in Motley County.
A phone call to the Motley County Sheriff’s Office was not immediately returned.
Texas Department of Emergency Management district coordinator Bill Durham said more information will be released later Thursday morning.
Reports from storm chasers and meteorologists on social media showed considerable damage around Matador, with damaged homes, utility lines, trees and infrastructure.
Ziebell said thunderstorms were likely to continue Thursday, but the risk of severe weather with tornadoes was unlikely.
Wednesday’s tornado outbreak came six days after a tornado left three people dead and more than 100 injured in Perryton in the northern Texas Panhandle.