Tornado Hit Perryton, Texas, Killing 3 and Causing Devastation

The hurricane system that hit Texas late Thursday killed three people and injured dozens, an official said, as the state braced for a weekend of brutal heat.

Three deaths and more than 75 injuries occurred in Perryton, a city where a mobile home park was directly affected by the tornado, local fire chief Paul Dutcher told NBC News. He told the station ABC7 Yellow that firefighters were still retrieving people from the rubble at 6 p.m

Officials in Perryton, about 115 miles northeast of Amarillo in Panhandle state, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Between 50 and 75 patients are being treated at the city's Ochiltree General Hospital, Kelly Judice, the hospital administrator, said by telephone. Their injuries ranged from cuts to trauma, he added, and 10 patients with life-threatening injuries were sent to a larger facility in Amarillo.

Videos and photos posted to social media Views of the area by a CBS News journalist appear to show flattened buildings, flooded and damaged vehicles.

Hurricane warning applies Thursday night to three counties in Oklahoma and Texas, and 10 counties in Texas are under hurricanes watchaccording to the National Weather Service.

The tornado that hit Perryton was part of a larger storm system moving through the area. Heat contributes to storms by destabilizing the atmosphere, said Trent Hoffeditz, a meteorologist at the Office of the Weather Service in Amarillo.

Millions of people across Texas are bracing for widespread heat that officials say will last for days and increase the risk of wildfires and heat-related illness. Some daily temperature records may drop in Texas and Louisiana, including in Houston and New Orleans, said the Weather Service on Thursday.

Hot advisory applies on Thursday nights to more than 25 million people America, mostly in Texas. More than 10 million others, most of them in Louisiana, are under extreme heat watch. Some advice and watches are slated to remain in place through Saturday evening.

Heat index measures how hot it feels outside, taking into account temperature and humidity. Heat advisors usually indicate that the maximum index temperature is expected to be 100 degrees or higher for at least two days. Excessively hot watches tend to mean the index can go as high as 105 degrees or more.

Parts of Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, are expected to see a heat index reading of 105 to 112 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday or Saturday, the Weather Service said in one piece of advice. Index of up to 119 degrees maybe in some southern countries.

Hot weather can pose a health risk to people who spend long periods of time outdoors or without air conditioning. Across Texas, that is Salvation Army has opened several cooling stations where people can escape the heat punishment.

It's not uncommon for officials in Texas to issue heat warnings around this time of year, said Monte Oaks, a meteorologist at the Weather Service's San Antonio office. They usually do so when high temperatures are combined with other factors, including high humidity and westerly winds that blow hot air from the desert plateau, he added.

In this case, said Mr. Oaks, the humidity is high because Texas experiences a wetter and more stormy spring than usual. That has made parts of the state appear bushier than usual in June, he said. But it also means that the hot ground “cooks up a lot of moisture” and releases it into the air.

Electricity demand is expected to increase in the state this weekend because of the hot weather, the Texas Electrical Reliability Board, which manages about 90 percent of the state's electricity load, said in a statement on Wednesday. But there is enough supply to meet demand, the company added, and it is not expecting an “energy emergency”.

Global warming is making dangerous hot weather more common, and more extreme, on every continent. In Texas and neighboring Mexico, forecast excessive heat over the next few days is at least five times more likely, according to an analysis on Wednesday by Climate Central, a non-profit research collaboration of scientists and journalists.

In the Perryton area on Thursday, the Texas Department of Public Safety is assisting with traffic control and other needs, Cindy Barkley, a spokeswoman for the department, said by telephone. The Ochiltree County Sheriff's Office said it could not provide information on the extent of the damage, or whether anyone was injured.

Barry Nusz, a storm chaser based in Amarillo, Texas, said he was about 10 miles east of Perryton when the tornado approached.

“Obviously it's going to become a tornado and go from a bowl to a huge tornado that is embedded in the ground,” said Mr. Nusz.

“But quickly wrapped in rain,” he added. “We lost sight.”

jesus jimenez reporting contribution.