Video shows deadly tornado destroy Texas gas station with people inside

Videos shared on social media show the moment a deadly tornado ripped through a Texas truck stop as more than 60 people sought shelter inside as severe weather battered the central U.S. on Sunday.

Powerful tornadoes wreaked havoc during early morning storms, which killed more than a dozen people and caused widespread destruction in parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky, according to state and local officials.

At least 15 people were killed – seven in Texas, five in Arkansas, two in Oklahoma and one in Kentucky – by the severe storms that also left dozens of people injured and numerous homes and businesses reduced to rubble, the Associated Press reported.

During a press conference on Sunday that was held in front of a truck stop destroyed by a tornado, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the storm hit the northern part of the Lonestar State hard. All seven deaths were reported in Cooke County after at least one powerful tornado tore through the area, the governor said.

“Texans across the state are saddened by the tragic loss of seven lives due to severe storms in North Texas,” Abbott said in a statement. “We estimate that there are close to 100 people injured, more than 200 homes or structures destroyed, and more than 220 buildings damaged. As further assessments are made, those numbers may increase. It has been a harrowing week with lives lost, property reduced to rubble, and crushed hopes and dreams of those that owned homes or small businesses, but in true Texas fashion, Texans are responding to this great tragedy with love, care, and generosity.”

Among the deceased in North Texas were two young children, ages 2 and 5, Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington said during the media briefing.

The sheriff described a disastrous situation in Valley View, a rural city near the Oklahoma border, and said that “many” people were injured after a tornado plowed through an AP Travel Stop and Shell station with more than 60 people inside.

The NWS gave the twister a preliminary rating of “higher-end EF-2” and said the storm that ripped through the Valley View area had winds reaching an estimated 135 mph.

Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday night to Cooke County officials for comment.

The exterior of the Veterans of Foreign Wars facility suffered severe damage following a tornado on May 23, 2024 in Temple, Texas. The city of Temple has reported widespread damage after a tornado moved through…

Brandon Bell/Getty

Videos shared on X, formerly Twitter, show the tornado ripping through the truck stop near Valley View.

In one viral video, X user Conner Stines shared a jaw-dropping clip that amassed more than 600,000 views as of Sunday night.

“Last night, my sister and I were driving on I-35 when the Valley View tornado hit the gas station,” Stines wrote. “We pulled into the gas station so that I could look at radar, and then we took shelter. That being said, here is a view from inside the Shell gas station!”

Peyton Yager, a reporter for local station KDFW, reposted Stines’ clip on X and wrote: “This is terrifying video from inside the Valley View gas station as Saturday night’s tornado traveled through Cooke County, TX. Dozens of people huddled in the bathrooms/hallway. Everyone inside the gas station survived, per the sheriff.”

Keenan Willard, a reporter for local station NBCDFW, shared a video of storm damage.

“LATEST: Emergency officials say about 250 homes were completely destroyed in last night’s North Texas tornado across Montague, Cooke, Denton and Collin counties,” Willard wrote on X. “The breadth of the damage from this storm is massive, whole neighborhoods blown away in under a minute.”

In one viral social media post that garnered more than 100,000 views in a few hours, X user Giovanni shared photos of a brown and white dog among the debris of a building.

“A dog has been found alive here in Valley View. If you know the owner of the dog please let them know,” Giovanni wrote. “The dog is near J L Drive and Green Meadow Drive. A neighbor on Green Meadow drive is looking after the dog until owner claims him.”

The deadly tornado in Cooke County comes on the heels of another powerful storm that killed eight people and caused extensive destruction in Houston.

Severe weather is expected to continue through Sunday night, with forecasters issuing tornado watches for parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, according to the NWS.

Kelly Godsey, senior service hydrologist and meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) in Tallahassee, Florida, told Newsweek on Sunday that people need to ensure that they always have multiple ways to receive weather alerts.

“It’s also important to understand the difference between a watch and a warning,” Godsey said. “A watch means conditions are favorable for severe weather. A warning means severe weather is imminent or has been spotted in your community. When the NWS issues a severe thunderstorm, tornado, or flash flood warning, that’s when you need to take action to get to safety. Don’t wait until you see the severe weather approaching your home or business, seek shelter when the warning is issued. And have a plan before the warning is issued to know a safe place where you can get to protect yourself and others in your family.”