Tornado hits Texas county; 1 killed, 1 critically injured

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A large swath of the central United States braced for tornadoes, large hail and violent wind gusts Saturday as meteorologists predicted the type of weather that can wreak havoc or, as was the case in Texas on Saturday, even be deadly.

A tornado struck Eastland County, west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The storm killed one person and injured another critically, according to Walter Fairbanks, chief of the Cisco Fire Department.

That tornado — the first of three confirmed in the Lone Star State — was short-lived but destructive, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. Phillip Arthur, chief of the Eastland County fire department, told CNN that there are damaged homes, downed power lines and road blockages.

Elsewhere, two tornadoes were confirmed in eastern Colorado at around 6:30 p.m. ET. The National Weather Service recorded one near Eads, or 20 miles south of Kit Carson, moving to the northeast at 35 mph. A second was recorded six miles north of Karval, or 31 miles south of Limon, moving north at 25 mph.

Millions in storm’s path

By late Saturday afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued tornado watches in portions of six states: Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas — leaving millions potentially in the crosshairs.

The tornado watch for eastern Colorado, western Kansas and southwestern Nebraska was issued until 11 p.m. ET, a time when tornadoes are likely with hail up to 2 inches in diameter and isolated wind gusts up to 70 mph, it said.

The tornado watch it issued for portions of central and southern Oklahoma, as well as northern and central Texas, was effective until 10 p.m. ET.

‘Perfect playing field’ in play

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam explained that the system is the result of the frigid, dry air covering the northwest butting into an even larger mass of warm air rising up from the Gulf of Mexico laden with unstable moisture.

On one side, overnight lows plunge into the low 20s, where it’s snowing in some places; on the other, daytime highs push into the 80s, while thunderstorms rumble by. A low pressure area is churning in between them.

“That gives us the perfect playing field for severe weather across the central Plains States,” Van Dam said.