Matador, Texas takes direct hit from large tornado, leaving three dead and widespread damage

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Severe storms left a trail of destruction in West Texas on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, spawning multiple tornadoes, including one that directly hit the Matador community, resulting in at least three fatalities and widespread damage.

In the wake of a potent storm system on the Rolling Plains of West Texas on June 21, a series of tornadoes wreaked havoc, causing severe damage and loss of life. The Matador community was hardest hit, with a tornado claiming at least three lives and causing significant damage, according to a statement from the town’s Mayor.

The severe storm line also spawned softball-sized hail and wind gusts exceeding 160 km/h (100 mph) in other areas such as Jayton. As the storm system moved southeast post-sunset on Wednesday, Jayton, too, found itself under a tornado warning issued by the National Weather Service in Lubbock.

Power outages affected the Rolling Plains, with more than 700 customers in the Jayton area left without electricity, according to South Plains Electric Cooperative. However, the worst damage was reported from the Motley County community of Matador, a small town with a population of approximately 570 located 112 km (70 miles) northeast of Lubbock.

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William Iwasko, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Lubbock, confirmed three tornadoes within the storm line but noted that the one in Matador caused the most significant damage.

Lubbock Fire Rescue confirmed its deployment to assist with damage recovery in Matador. “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 stated.

Furthermore, Lubbock’s University Medical Center confirmed the dispatch of its AMBUS mobile medical unit to assist in Matador.

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Image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 01:00 UTC on June 22, 2023

As the storms continued to travel southeast, new tornado warnings were issued for Dickens and King counties until 22:00 LT. The weather service warned of a particularly dangerous situation with a confirmed large and extremely dangerous tornado. As the storm continued its path southward from Matador, a confirmed tornado was spotted northeast of the Afton community, moving southeast at 32 km/h (20 mph).

At the height of the storm, nearly 500 000 customers across Texas were without power. Asa of, 09:10 UTC on June 22, 103 276 customers are without power in Texas, 74 746 in Oklahoma and 24 002 in Louisiana.

This severe weather event came just six days after a confirmed EF-3 tornado in Perryton in the northern Texas Panhandle resulted in three fatalities and left over 100 injured.


1 Deaths reported as Matador takes direct hit from tornado during potent West Texas storms – Lubbock Online – June 21/22, 2023

2 Tornadoes tear through northern Texas town, killing 3 people and causing widespread damage – AP – June 22, 2023

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers. Acquired at 01:00 UTC on June 22, 2023


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