Memorial Day Weather: Storms threaten the East Coast as high heat hits parts of the South


Millions of people in the East are in the path of severe weather on Memorial Day after severe and deadly storms ravaged a large swath of the central United States over the weekend.

Destructive thunderstorms and tornadoes caused at least 23 deaths over the long weekend in parts of Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Alabama, including four children. The storms killed 15 people in Arkansas and Texas alone. Five more died in Kentucky.

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Sunday was the busiest severe weather day of the year, with more than 600 storm damage reports in at least 20 states, including tornadoes, 75 mph winds and hail the size of softballs. The storms returned Buildings in ruinsDamaged cars and downed power lines.

Charlie Kaijo/Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/AP

The hometown flea market in Rogers, Arkansas was severely damaged.

As of Monday afternoon, more than 450,000 homes and businesses in the central, southern and eastern United States were still without power in the wake of the weekend storms.

Severe storms hit parts of Kentucky on Sunday night and caused damage to some communities, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear to declare a state of emergency early Monday. Phone lines in the Bowling Green area were knocked out, leading police to set up alternative emergency numbers for those in need.

The National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky, is sending at least two storm survey teams on Monday to assess the damage. The office said.

Five storm-related deaths were reported in the state — one in Hardin County, one in Hopkins County, one in Caldwell County, one in Mercer County and one in Louisville, about 70 miles away. Another person is “fighting for their life,” Beshear said at a news conference Monday.

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More than 70 million people from the south to the northeast are under a Category 2 out of 5 risk of severe thunderstorms on Monday.

Severe thunderstorms will continue through Monday evening across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, including a wide area of ​​the I-95 corridor. Storms in the region can drop damaging winds, hail and tornadoes.

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Tornadoes are possible with any severe storms that develop east Monday, but areas from eastern North Carolina to eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey are at slightly higher risk. Richmond, Virginia, DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia are some of the cities that could contend with tornadoes.

Storms can also drop drenching rain that can lead to flooding, especially in low-lying or urban areas. New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and parts of Maryland have a Level 2 out of 4 risk of heavy rainfall.

Severe thunderstorms to the east will be tracked Monday night offshore and across the Atlantic Ocean.

Isolated severe thunderstorms will bubble over the southern Plains Monday afternoon and evening.

North-central Texas has a Category 2 of 5 severe thunderstorms, including the Dallas-Fort Worth metro. Large hail and damaging wind gusts are the main threats for any storms in the region, but a hurricane is also possible.

High temperatures and early heat waves make for the Memorial Day holiday in South Texas, the central Gulf Coast and parts of South Florida.

Extreme heat warnings are in effect for parts of Texas through Monday evening while heat advisories extend from Texas to Mississippi.

Houston; New Orleans; Miami; Mobile, Alabama; Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina and parts of South Carolina are experiencing extreme heat on Monday.

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From Texas to southern Louisiana, heat index readings topped 110 degrees, with air temperatures reaching record highs Monday afternoon in some locations. Areas of the Houston metro ranged from 110 to 115 degrees Monday afternoon with the heat index — a measure of how hot the body actually feels. It broke into the low 120s near Texas’ border with Mexico.

The heat index soared to a minimum of 108 degrees in New Orleans and hovered in the triple digits in Mobile, Alabama.

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No relief is available in some areas at night. Overnight low temperatures are expected to be 10 to 15 degrees above normal and dozens of places will be record-warm.

Such intense, prolonged heat increases the risk of heat illnesses such as heat stroke, especially for vulnerable groups such as children, adults with underlying health conditions, pregnant women and outdoor workers.

The dangers of extreme heat – the most deadly form of extreme weather – are becoming more prevalent as human-driven climate change warms global temperatures. During last year’s warm season, heat-related illnesses accounted for a 20% larger share of emergency department visits than they did in the previous five seasons.

CNN’s Eliana Hebert, Chris Boyd and Joe Sutton contributed to this report.

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