June 4, 2023

Hail the size of baseballs fell in Texas on Wednesday, officials said, as thunderstorms swept across parts of the American South and forecasters warned of possible damage from flying debris and flash flooding in low-lying areas over the next two days.

Storms in Central Texas produced “very large, destructive hail” early Wednesday evening, including four-inch ones that fell over Waco, a city south of Dallas, the National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office said. said on Twitter.

Waco police said one of the officers’ cars was hit with “baseball-sized buckshot.” Unconfirmed reports pouring into the National Weather Service said the hail that fell around Texas ranged from the size of pennies to golf balls.

Forecasters said they expected the storm system to move east Thursday and Friday, possibly bringing hail in Florida and flooding along the Gulf Coast.

The full extent of hail damage in Texas was not immediately clear Wednesday night. But more than 17,000 customers in the state were without power, and more than 300 flights departing from or landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport were canceled. Officials in Russk Countynear the Louisiana border, said more than 100 vehicles there were damaged by a hailstorm.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said further Twitter that he had mobilized urban search and rescue teams, boat teams and other emergency resources to deal with the effects of the storm. Nearly two million people in Texas and neighboring Louisiana were also under tornado scrutiny until 1 a.m. Thursday.

On Tuesday, similar weather in Texas spawned a tornado in Dickens County, about 260 miles northwest of Dallas. A tornado was also reported in the northeastern city earlier this month Tyler.

A number of severe storms have swept across the southeastern United States in recent months. In March, nine people were killed when a powerful storm system brought wind, rain and flooding across the region.

More than 450 tornadoes have been confirmed in the United States this year. So far, each monthly total has exceeded the historical average based on data from 1991 to 2020, according to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, a Washington-based nonprofit that tracks extreme weather events.

April Rubin reporting contributed.