Severe Memorial Day weather: Powerful storms kill at least 22 people

A series of powerful storms lashed the central and southern US over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, killing at least 22 people and leaving a wide trail of destroyed homes, businesses and power outages.

The Destruction storms It caused deaths in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, and a depression from southern Texas to Florida was north of early season heat wave records.

Forecasters said severe weather could move up the East Coast late Monday, warning millions of people outside for the sky-watching holiday. A tornado watch has been issued from North Carolina to Maryland.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who had earlier declared a state of emergency, said at a press conference Monday that five people had died in his state. The fifth death was a 54-year-old man who suffered a heart attack while cutting down fallen trees in Caldwell County, western Kentucky, the governor’s office said.

The 22 death toll includes seven fatalities Cook County, Texas, Saturday’s tornado tore through a mobile home park, officials said, and eight people died across Arkansas.

Two people died in Mays County, Oklahoma, east of Tulsa, authorities said. Among the injured were guests at an outdoor wedding.

The small Kentucky town of Charleston was the latest community left with broken homes Sunday night from a tornado that the governor said was 40 miles (64 kilometers) on the ground.

“It’s a big mess,” said Rob Linden, who lives in Charleston and is the fire chief of nearby Dawson Springs, which was hit by a tornado in 2021. “Trees are down everywhere. Houses are displaced. Power lines are down. There are no utilities – no water, no electricity.

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Further east, some rural areas of Hopkins County hit by the 2021 tornado around the community of Barnsley were damaged again Sunday night, county emergency management director Nick Bailey said.

“A lot of people were putting their lives back together and then this,” Bailey said. “Almost the same location, same houses and everything.”

Beshear has traveled to the region His father grew up Many times for ceremonies where people who lost everything were given the keys to their new homes.

The visits came after a terrible night of tornadoes in December 2021 81 people were killed In Kentucky.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Beshear said of the Memorial Day weekend storms. “Kentucky people are very weather-savvy about everything we’ve been through.”

There were more than 400,000 customers throughout the eastern United States Without power Monday afternoon, including about 125,000 in Kentucky. Twelve states reported at least 10,000 outages as of the previous day PowerOutage.us.

The area under high alert for severe weather Monday is a wide swath of the eastern United States from Alabama to New York.

President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the families of the dead. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is conducting damage assessments and has contacted governors to see what federal support they need.

It is a severe month of cyclones and severe weather in the central part of the country.

A tornado hit Iowa last week At least five people died And dozens were injured. Storms Eight people were killed in Houston Earlier this month. Severe thunderstorms and deadly twisters spawn a historically poor hurricane season, during which Climate change Contributes to the intensity of storms around the world. It was April The second highest number of hurricanes reported in the country.

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Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, attributed the string of hurricanes over the past two months to a persistent pattern of warm, moist air.

That warm, moist air is at the northern edge of the heat dome, bringing temperatures typically seen in late May at the height of summer.

The heat index — a combination of air temperature and humidity that indicates how hot it feels to the human body — approached triple digits in parts of South Texas on Monday. San Antonio and Dallas are also forecast to be hotter.

Pierce set new daily records Monday in Florida, Melbourne and Ft. Both reached 98 F (36.7 C). Miami set a record high of 96 F (35.5 C) on Sunday.

For more information on the latest tornado reports, see The Associated Press Tornado Tracker.

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Schreiner reported from Louisville, Kentucky. Associated Press reporters Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas and Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina contributed to this report.

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