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At least 4 dead in Texas after severe storms bring tornadoes and tennis ball-sized hail to western and central US

All residents have been accounted for after a tornado ravaged a small town in northwest Texas, killing four people and injuring 10 Wednesday night, officials said.

The search, however, continues as crews look for possible visitors or drivers who were in the area when the tornado hit, Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant Johnny Bures said Thursday.

The deadly tornado struck Matador, a town of a few hundred people roughly a 280-mile drive northwest of Dallas, Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service office in Lubbock said.

The twister came as powerful storms pummeled parts of the western and central US and at least 11 tornado reports were made across the western and central US, including six in Colorado, three in Texas, one in Wyoming and one in Nebraska, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

“The Town of Matador has experienced an unprecedented tornado bringing damaging winds to the town,” the Lubbock Fire Rescue post stated. “There are four confirmed fatalities & ten total injuries. Seven of which were transported by EMS and three by personal vehicle.”

The tornado destroyed Grundy’s home – leaving her without clothes or medicine – and scattered or killed much of the livestock she kept on her property, she said.

“It’s completely gone,” Grundy said, adding all of her chickens were gone and most of her cattle and horses were dead.

Rough weather continues Thursday, with more than 42 million people under at least a marginal risk of severe weather from Wyoming to Texas and in parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas, the Storm Prediction Center said.

Crews and law enforcement from as far as Wichita Falls have responded to Matador to help with search efforts, Bures said. Lubbock Fire Rescue is assisting Matador and posted photos of the devastation on social media, including one of an American flag wrapped around debris.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Thursday updated the state’s disaster declaration following the Matador tornado.

“The disaster declaration will continue to support Texas’ response and recovery efforts to extensive damages in 21 Texas counties, including the following counties added today: Motley, Nolan, Fisher, Jones, Kent, and Stonewall counties,” an announcement from the governor’s office said.

People in Texas and Oklahoma are also battling extreme temperatures this week – above 100 degrees in some areas – even as hundreds of thousands are without power following devastating storms

Wednesday’s deadly tornado marked the second such disaster in Texas in less than a week. A tornado killed at least three people and injured dozens of others in the Texas Panhandle city of Perryton, about 180 miles north of Matador, on June 15, authorities said.

Nearly 100 people attending a concert Wednesday evening at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver were injured after being pelted with hail during severe storms that moved across the area, the West Metro Fire Department said.

At least seven people were taken to hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries, the fire department said in a tweet. Up to 90 people were treated on scene, the department said. Injuries included cuts and broken bones, the tweet said.

Storms bring massive hail, power outages

Wednesday’s storms battered parts of the western and central US with large hail and lashing winds, the prediction service said.

Tennis ball-sized hail – around 2.75 inches – was reported in several cities in Colorado and Texas on Wednesday, including in Matador. In Jayton, Texas, a 4-inch hailstone was reported.

Nearly 500,000 homes and businesses were without power overnight in Texas and Oklahoma, according to utility tracker Power is not expected to be back until Friday or Saturday if “everything goes smoothly,” Bures said in a Thursday morning news conference.

“The substation was damaged, and that was a big part of why the power was out, too,” Bures said.

A donation center has been set up near the town’s school, Bures said.

Multiple agencies are working to ensure everyone is accounted for and assess the damage left behind by the tornado, and drones will be used to map the tornado’s path, he said.

Severe thunderstorm watches were in effect early Thursday for more than 15 million people in the region, including those in Houston, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.

Texans battle dueling heat and severe storms

Many Texans are grappling with a double whammy of destructive storms and record-breaking temperatures this week.

More than 20 million people are under heat alerts across Texas and New Mexico and record-breaking temperatures are expected to continue.

High temperatures in the low-90s are expected Thursday and Friday in Matador, with Saturday’s high set to surpass 100 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Without power, some residents will have to endure the heat without air conditioning, so a senior citizen center in Matador has been designated as a cooling place, Bures said.

Texas is among a handful of southern states that have seen triple-digit temperatures in recent days. On Wednesday, the southern Texas cities of Laredo and McAllen saw record highs of 114 and 107 degrees, respectively.

“Temperatures this afternoon will climb into the mid 90s to near 100 degrees across the eastern half of the area and top out between 100 and 108 across the western Concho Valley and northern Edwards Plateau,” the National Weather Service office in San Angelo said.

When you consider the actual temperature combined with the humidity levels, the heat index, or “feels like” temperature, will hover around 110 degrees.

Some heat alerts are set to expire as conditions slowly improve Thursday evening, providing a small reprieve.

The relief will be short-lived, however. Sweltering temperatures are expected to return Sunday and last into next week.

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