4 people confirmed dead in tornado northeast of Lubbock, Texas, officials say

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Thursday, June 22, 2023 11:47AM
Tornadoes tear through northern Texas, killing 4 and causing damage
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The worst damage appeared to be in Matador - a town of about 570 people, 70 miles northeast of Lubbock in Motley County.

MATADOR, Texas -- A line of severe storms produced multiple tornadoes Wednesday evening on the Rolling Plains in Texas, killing at least four people and causing significant damage around the northern town of Matador.

The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported that the storms also produced softball-size hail and wind gusts topping 100 mph in other communities including Jayton, which also was under a tornado warning as the line moved southeast Wednesday night, according to the National Weather Service in Lubbock.

Matador Mayor Pat Smith said at least three people had been killed, that others may be injured and that there was "a whole lot of damage," The New York Times reported. But in an update on Thursday morning, the Lubbock Fire Rescue confirmed the death toll had risen to four.

Ten others were injured, seven of which were taken to a hospital, officials said.

There were widespread power outages across the Rolling Plains, including more than 700 customers without power in the Jayton area, according to South Plains Electric Cooperative.

The worst damage appeared to be in Matador - a town of about 570 people, 70 miles northeast of Lubbock in Motley County.

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.

The National Weather Service in Lubbock reported just after 8 p.m. Wednesday that law enforcement confirmed a tornado located just north of Matador.

Shortly after 9:30 p.m., William Iwasko, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Lubbock, said there had been three confirmed tornadoes in the line of storms, but it appeared the one in Matador was the only that caused significant damage.

Reports from storm chasers and meteorologists on social media showed considerable damage around Matador, with damaged homes, utility lines, trees and infrastructure.

Lubbock Fire Rescue confirmed to the Avalanche-Journal that it was sending a crew to assist with the damage and recovery.

"I gave the order for Heavy Rescue 1 to respond to the town of Matador to assist in freeing trapped residents from collapsed structures," LFR Chief Shaun Fogerson said.

University Medical Center in Lubbock confirmed it was sending its AMBUS mobile medical unit to Matador.

A new tornado warning was issued for Dickens and King counties through 10 p.m. as the line of storms continued traveling southeast, according to statement from the weather service on Twitter.