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Severe storms cause destruction and casualties in Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida

tornado damage perryton tx june 15 2023 f

Strong winds, thunderstorms, and tornadoes caused multiple casualties and damage across the southeastern United States, including Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida, over a 24-hour period starting June 15, 2023. Three people lost their lives in Perryton Town, northern Texas, and one in Escambia County, Florida.

Heavy rainfall, thunderstorms, lightning, and hailstorms have left a trail of destruction across the southeastern United States, particularly impacting the Lower Mississippi Valley and the Southeast Region. The most affected states have been Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida, where the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded a total of 10 tornadoes in 24 hours, with 5 in Georgia, 3 in Texas, and 2 in Alabama.

Power outages were widespread, with FEMA documenting nearly 110 000 disrupted services across all affected states.

As of June 16, 2023, media reports highlighted the extent of the devastation, particularly in Perryton, a town of 8 000 people in the Texas Panhandle, where three people were confirmed dead. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported dozens of injuries and significant property damage across the three states hit by tornadoes.

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Rescue efforts were ongoing in the Pensacola area in Florida, where flash floods necessitated the evacuation of over 100 people from an apartment complex. The complex, located next to a creek, saw water levels rise to the first-floor windows due to rainfall exceeding 432 mm (17 inches) across the Pensacola area.

In a chilling historical context, the Perryton tornado could be one of the deadliest in Ochiltree County, according to senior meteorologist Jon Erdman from weather.com. Since 1950, only two other tornadoes in the county have been deadly.

Drone footage from Perryton, Texas, revealed extensive damage to buildings, with some catching fire. The tornado, which formed late in the afternoon, resulted in a ‘direct hit’ to a mobile home, leading to one fatality. The Perryton Fire Chief highlighted the particular danger mobile homes pose during tornadoes, with the National Weather Service reporting a 15-20% higher mortality risk in such structures compared to permanent homes during severe weather. Rescue efforts continue for the missing individuals, with emergency resources deployed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

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YouTube video
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Texas Task Force 1 and Texas Task Force 2, the state’s primary search and rescue teams, have been deployed to Perryton. The teams, consisting of over 115 personnel, including search dogs, are expected to arrive at the scene on the morning of June 17, 2023.

Escambia County, Florida, faced its own trials as the storm produced a tornado that toppled a tree onto a home, resulting in one fatality. Another person was struck by lightning and taken to a local hospital. The county faced further struggles as over 406 mm (16 inches) of rain fell overnight, causing flash floods. High water rescues were ongoing, with multiple reports of people trapped or stranded on flooded roadways.

In the wake of the storms, further challenges are forecasted for the Lower Mississippi Valley. Over the next 24 hours, heavy rainfall, strong winds, and thunderstorms are expected. NOAA has issued a severe thunderstorm warning for northeastern Texas.

“Scattered strong to severe thunderstorms will persist along a boundary in the eastern Gulf Coast states, and with a couple of systems in the central Plains and Mid-Atlantic. Large hail and damaging winds are the primary threats. Heavy to excessive rain will be possible from the central Plains to the eastern Gulf,” NWS said.

References:

1 Live Updates: At Least 4 Dead After Tornadoes, Storms Hit Several States – TWC – June 16, 2023

2 USA – Severe weather -DG ECHO – June 16, 2023

3 Short Range Forecast Discussion – NWS Weather Prediction Center College Park MD – 333 AM EDT Fri Jun 16 2023

Featured image credit: Perryton Fire EMS

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2 Comments

  1. Good morning. Here in southern Brazil we are still going through the strong effects related to an extratropical cyclone that is now reaching the state Rio Grande do Sul and had previously passed through the state of Santa Catarina. There are extreme rainfall from 254 mm in the last 24 hours, winds in wide areas above 100 km/h. Dozens of landslides on hills, banned roads, widespread flooding and more than one million people without electricity. The situation is chaotic. There are dead and missing, but as we are still in the middle of the event no number is reliable and can increase soon.

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