Twisters with up to 200 mph winds roar through North Texas, killing 6

Last Updated 7:00 p.m. ET

GRANBURY, Texas At least six people were killed Wednesday evening as a spring tornado outbreak devastated parts of North Texas, destroying or damaging dozens of homes, injuring dozens of people and leaving hundreds homeless.

The National Weather Service estimates there to have been at least 10 twisters in all, reports CBS Dallas station KTVT.

The violent spring storm scattered bodies, flattened houses and threw trailers onto cars. Emergency officials said 19 homes and a water tower experienced major damage.

The worst-hit city was Granbury, where authorities say a deadly tornado tore through two neighborhoods at about 8 p.m. Forecasters say the tornado is believed to have had winds up to 200 mph.

"The wind speed itself won't kill you, it's what's blowing around in the wind," National Weather Service meteorologist Kurt Vanspeybroeck told CBS Radio. "If you have a baseball coming at you at 200 miles an hour, it's going to kill you."

A satellite photo of Granbury, Texas before and after a 200 mph-tornado ripped through the area Wednesday night.
A satellite photo of Granbury, Texas before and after a 200 mph-tornado ripped through the area Wednesday night.
CBS News/Google Maps

Hood County Sheriff Roger Deeds delivered word of the death toll at a midnight news conference.

"Some were found in houses. Some were found around houses," Deeds said, adding that the death toll may climb. Seven people remained unaccounted as of Thursday morning.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, officials identified those who died from the storm: Glenda and Bob Whitehead, Tommy Martin, 80-year-old Leo Stefanski, 81-year-old Marjorie Davis and Jose Tovar.

Jamie Dugger and Manuel of Cleburne, Texas, said she knew something was wrong when she looked out to her porch. "I've seen a lot of green skies ... never a neon sky," Jamie told CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez.

Resident Elizabeth Tovar (it is unclear if she is related to the deceased) described the fist-sized hail that heralded the tornado's arrival, prompting her and her family to hide in their bathroom.

"We were all, like, hugging in the bathtub and that's when it started happening. I heard glass shattering and I knew my house was going," Tovar said, shaking her head. "We looked up and . . . the whole ceiling was gone."

The powerful storm crushed buildings as it tore through the area, leaving some as just piles of planks and rubble. Trees and debris were scattered across yards, fences flattened.

Behind one house, a detached garage was stripped of most of its aluminum siding, the door caved in and the roof torn off. A tree behind the house was stripped of its branches and a vacant doublewide mobile home on an adjoining lot was torn apart.

Daniel and Amanda Layne initially thought they were safe sheltering under their carport. But then "it started getting worse and worse," and the couple took shelter in their bathroom, Daniel Layne said.

"The windows and the cars are gone. Both our cars are messed up. I had a big shop. Ain't a piece of it left now," Layne said with a shrug.

One woman, a mother of five, told KTVT she lost everything in an instant. "There's nothing left," she said. "I mean, our neighborhood is gone, it's just gone."

Lake Granbury Medical Center said more than three dozen patients received treatment, including 19 that were treated and released.

Hardest hit were two neighborhoods, Rancho Brazos Estates and DeCordova Ranch, in the southern end of the town of about 8,000 residents about 65 miles southwest of Dallas.

Ambulances from as far away as Fort Worth were being called to Granbury, said Tye Bell, Richland Hills police spokesman who was heading to Granbury on Wednesday night. On Thursday some residents were being kept from their houses because propane tanks could be leaking, CBS News correspondent Anna Werner reports.

Rancho Brazos Estates resident Elizabeth Tovar said she rode out the tornado with her husband and sister as she clutched her 9-month-old daughter.

"We heard the winds whipping and glass smashing everywhere," said Tovar, 25. "I felt like a long time and when things died down I looked up and saw that the roof was gone."