Severe Memorial Day weather: Powerful U.S. storms head east after killing 20 – The Associated Press

Severe Memorial Day weather: Powerful U.S. storms head east after killing 20 – The Associated Press

A series of powerful storms swept through the central and southern United States over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, killing at least 21 people and leaving a wide trail of destroyed homes, businesses and power outages.

THE destructive storms caused deaths in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky and were just north of an oppressive early-season heat wave, setting records from southern Texas to Florida.

Forecasters said severe weather could move to the East Coast later Monday and warned millions of people outside during the holidays to watch the skies.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who declared a state of emergency earlier, said in a news conference Monday that four people had died in four different counties.

The death toll of 21 also includes seven deaths in Cooke County, Texas, from a tornado Saturday that ripped through a mobile home park, officials said, and killed eight people in Arkansas.

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

The latest community to be left with destroyed homes and no power is the small community of Charleston, Kentucky, which was directly hit Sunday evening by a tornado that the governor said appeared to be on the ground for 40 miles.

“It’s a big disaster,” said Rob Linton, who lives in Charleston and is the fire chief of nearby Dawson Springs, hit by a tornado in 2021. “Trees fell everywhere. The houses have moved. Power lines are cut. No utilities – no water, no electricity.

Farther east, some rural areas of Hopkins County hit by the 2021 tornado around the community of Barnsley were damaged again Sunday evening, county Emergency Management Director Nick Bailey said.

“There were a lot of people who were just putting their lives back together and then this,” Bailey said. “Almost the same place, same houses and everything.”

Beshear visited the area where his father grew up several times for ceremonies during which people who had lost everything received the keys to their new home.

These visits took place after a series of tornadoes on a terrifying night in December 2021. killed 81 people in Kentucky.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Beshear said of the Memorial Day weekend storms. “Kentuckians are very weather conscious, given everything we’ve been through.”

More than 500,000 customers in the eastern United States have been without power Monday afternoon, including about 170,000 in Kentucky. Twelve states reported at least 10,000 outages, according to

The area on high alert for severe weather Monday covers a large swath of the eastern United States, from Alabama to New York.

President Joe Biden sent his condolences to the families who had people killed. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on the ground assessing the damage and that he had reached out to governors to see what federal support they might need.

It was a dark month, marked by tornadoes and extreme weather in the central part of the country.

Tornadoes in Iowa last week are gone at least five dead and dozens of injured. Storms killed eight people in Houston earlier this month. The severe thunderstorms and deadly tornadoes appeared during a historically bad tornado season, at a time when climate change contributes to the severity of storms around the world. April had the second most tornadoes registered in the country.

Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, said the series of tornadoes over the past two months was due to a persistent atmosphere of warm, humid air.

This warm, humid air sits at the northern edge of a thermal dome, bringing temperatures typically seen at the height of summer until late May.

The heat index – a combination of air temperature and humidity to indicate how heat is felt by the human body – is expected to reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit (49 degrees Celsius) in parts of South Texas on Monday . Records are expected for Brownsville, San Antonio and Dallas.

Miami set a record 96 F (35.5 C) on Sunday.

For more on recent tornado reports, see The Associated Press Tornado Tracker.


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


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