Four killed as Texas hit by tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and hailstones bigger than tennis balls

US

Four people have been killed as a line of severe storms hit west Texas, producing a rare combination of multiple tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and hailstones bigger than tennis balls.

The deaths happened in the town of Matador which was struck by an “unprecedented” tornado, authorities said.

Ten other people were injured and later treated in hospital.

The damage on Wednesday evening was concentrated on a one-mile stretch of the town, with at least 20 businesses and homes demolished.

Pic: AP
Image:
Pic: AP

A restaurant’s walls were all knocked down, but the booths remained standing in a “jaw-dropping” scene, according to a fire rescue spokesman.

The town was left without power as of early on Thursday.

Around 8pm on Wednesday, a “supercell” developed near the city of Amarillo before hitting Matador, said forecaster Matt Ziebell at the National Weather Service.

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He called it “certainly rare to see all at the same time – killer tornadoes, hurricane-force winds and softball-sized hail”.

The storms produced 109mph winds in the city of Jayton along with hailstones 10cm (four inches) wide, Mr Ziebell said.

The weather service reported a 97mph wind gust at Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston – the strongest ever recorded since data was first collected there in 1969.

The previous record was 82mph during Hurricane Ike in 2008.

Strong winds brought down trees and power lines, with much of the damage happening north of Houston.

Last week in Texas, three people were killed and dozens more injured when a tornado with peak winds of 140mph struck Perryton, a city around 160 miles north of Matador.

That tornado, which had a path of more than six miles and a maximum width of 800 metres, hit the town on 15 June.

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