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One Dead, Many Unaccounted For After Twisters Touch Down In North Texas

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DALLAS — The fire chief in the North Texas town of Cisco says one person has been killed after a tornado swept through the area. Chief Walter Fairbanks had no other details early Saturday evening. Damage was reported after the tornado hit Saturday afternoon in Eastland County, about 100 miles west of Fort Worth.

An official said homes have been destroyed and some people are unaccounted for after a tornado struck a rural farming and ranching area. Eastland County Judge Rex Fields said there was “considerable amount of damage” in the county. He said damage assessment was difficult Saturday because of heavy rains.

A second tornado touched down near Wichita Falls. A police dispatcher in Burkburnett, who declined to give her name due to department policy, said that the tornado touched down north of town.

Burkburnett is about 15 miles north of Wichita Falls. It was too early to determine the extent of damage or whether there were any injuries. She said the town of Burkburnett set off its tornado siren at 5:55 p.m Central time.

The weather service on Saturday afternoon elevated to “moderate” the risk of tornadoes in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area and elsewhere across North Texas. Eastland County, which was part of the enhanced zone, was pelted with 3-inch hail as the storm rumbled through.

“As expected, the environment in North Texas is particularly favorable (for tornadoes),” said Bill Bunting, the chief of operations at the Norman, Oklahoma-based Storm Prediction Center.

Storms also brought heavy rain and quarter-sized hail to parts of southwest Oklahoma on Saturday afternoon, but meteorologists said there was so much rain — and so little sun — that the tornado threat there lessened throughout the day. Parts of western Kansas also were bracing for severe storms.

But the threatening skies stretched beyond the Plains states, as twin weather systems stretching from the Carolinas to California produced an unseasonably early tropical storm in the Atlantic and a late-season snowstorm in the Rocky Mountains. Tropical Storm Ana’s forecast track is expected to go near the coasts of North and South Carolina on Sunday.

Meanwhile, up to 5 inches of snow was possible in the Nebraska Panhandle this weekend, and parts of South Dakota could receive between 12 to 24 inches of snow, according to the weather service. (AP)