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Storm Barrels Through Tiny Texas Town, Killing at Least 4


A powerful storm struck the northern Texas town of Matador on Wednesday night, killing at least four people, damaging about a dozen buildings and prompting a search for people who might have been injured or trapped by debris, the authorities said. At least nine people were injured.

โ€œThere are buildings completely flattened, restaurants with the walls wiped away,โ€ said Derek Delgado, a spokesman for the fire department of the town of Lubbock, Texas, which was assisting with search and rescue operations in Matador. โ€œItโ€™s just heartbreaking.โ€

Matador, which has about 600 residents, is roughly 290 miles northwest of Dallas and was under a tornado warning as the storm barreled through the area around 8 p.m., said William Iwasko, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lubbock, about 80 miles away. He said the damage in Matador suggested there was โ€œmost likelyโ€ a tornado there, but that had not been confirmed as of early Thursday morning.

All residents of the small town were accounted for, officials said Thursday morning, and they were in the process of making sure nobody else was passing through town when the storm hit.

Itโ€™s unclear how many people were displaced, said Sgt. Johnny Bures of the Texas Department of Public Safety, but he added that many people might have family nearby.

โ€œItโ€™s a tight-knit community, everyone knows everyone,โ€ he said.

Matador is without power, Mr. Bures added, and said it was expected to be back by Friday evening or Saturday.

The mayor of Matador, Pat Smith, who also provides emergency medical services in the town, said in a brief phone interview late Wednesday that at least three people had been killed and that others may have been injured. He added that there was โ€œa whole lot of damage.โ€

On the west end of Matador, several businesses and homes were destroyed, Mr. Smith said, adding that rescue workers had pulled residents from collapsed houses.

โ€œItโ€™s really, really bad,โ€ Mr. Smith said as emergency crews were heard shouting directions in the background.

Footage of Matador posted on Twitter by Jacob Riley, a meteorologist with the Lubbock television station KLBK, showed emergency personnel moving across a landscape dotted with leveled structures.

Mr. Smith said that electricity was also out across Matador, the county seat of Motley County. More than 100,000 people were without power across Texas early Thursday morning, according to the site poweroutage.us. That included most residents of Motley and two other counties.

The bad weather hit Matador on Wednesday night as thunderstorms and sheets of hail lashed parts of Texas and Colorado. In Morrison, Colo., near Denver, a concert at the outdoor Red Rocks Amphitheater was delayed and then postponed because of a hailstorm.

Footage showed concertgoers at the venue fleeing for shelter as rivulets of ice and water poured down staircases and lightning flashed in the sky. Dozens of people were injured, and at least seven were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries, the ABC affiliate Denver7 reported.

At least some risk for extreme weather is possible again Thursday, including in Texas and Colorado, mainly for scattered thunderstorms possible of damaging winds, hail larger than two inches at times and excessive rain. However, the chance of a tornado canโ€™t be ruled out, especially in portions of Colorado.

The storm hit Matador at the end of a day in which a heat dome was stalling over much of Texas and Oklahoma. The heat wave that is forecast to last at least through the July 4 holiday was expected to become even more dangerous the longer it persisted, forecasters with the Weather Prediction Center posted. Officials in Texas asked residents in the state to conserve electricity, amid concerns that several days of triple-digit temperatures could strain the power grid.

Last week, a tornado pummeled the Texas town of Perryton, where three people were killed and dozens of mobile homes were mangled. That tornado was part of a ferocious series of storms that swept across the South.

Scientists say that tornadoes seem to be occurring in greater โ€œclustersโ€ in recent years, and that the area of the country known as Tornado Alley, where most tornadoes occur, seems to be shifting eastward.

Claire Moses contributed reporting.





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