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Severe storms and tornadoes devastate American states

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Editor’s note: This page is a summary of severe weather news for Monday, May 27. For the latest weather news, check our file for Tuesday, May 28.

The wave of severe storms that caused at least 22 deaths in four states over the holiday weekend reached the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Monday evening, but is expected to subside by Tuesday afternoon, giving way to sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 80s.

If only the southern part of the country were so happy.

The midsummer-like temperatures that hit much of South Texas all the way through Florida on Memorial Day are expected to last for a few more days, the National Weather Service said.

An upper-level high temperature is expected to “produce a dangerous early-season heat wave over South Texas, the central Gulf Coast and South Florida,” the weather service said. “High temperatures will be at or near record highs, and heat index readings of more than 115 degrees across the regions will also be possible.”

Parts of Texas and the Mid-South are still reeling from the devastating weekend. At least eight people died in Arkansas, seven in Texas, five in Kentucky and two in Oklahoma amid tornadoes and storms that destroyed hundreds of homes, authorities said. Meanwhile, a farmer in Colorado and 34 of his cattle died from a lightning strike.

More than 280,000 homes and businesses were without power as of 9:30 PM ET on Monday, most of them in an area from Missouri and Arkansas in the west to Virginia and Georgia in the east. Kentucky had by far the most outages, with a peak of 98,000.

Developments:

∎ A tornado warning is in effect for parts of Washington, DC, Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina until 11 p.m. Monday, the National Weather Service announced via X.

∎ The Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for New York City, northeastern New Jersey and the lower Hudson Valley until 9 p.m. Monday, as thunderstorms and showers arrived from the southwest.

∎ Storms that hit New York on Monday caused hours of air traffic delays as nearly 44 million people were expected to travel during the holidays. At LaGuardia Airport, planes were delayed an average of an hour and 40 minutes Monday afternoon, while traffic to Newark Airport was delayed an average of 3 hours and 27 minutes, according to the FAA’s Air Traffic Control System Command Center.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed Sunday that seven people were killed in the state and at least 100 were injured after tornadoes and other severe weather ravaged northern Texas, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of Fort Worth.

Cooke County Sheriff Ray Sappington said the fatalities included two children, ages 2 and 5.

A tornado ripped through southern Cooke County and parts of Denton County Saturday evening, Sappington told local news station WFAA. He said between 60 and 80 people took shelter from the storm at a travel center.

“It took some time to get back in there because of all the damage from the power lines and the trees were down,” he said.

At least 200 homes and buildings were destroyed and 120 were damaged during tornado activity that crossed about 30 square miles in Texas, Abbott said. He said he would be “shocked” if the figures did not rise as the damage assessment continues.

The damage came days after another round of tornadoes wreaked havoc in central Texas, downing power lines and crushing roofs. “The hopes and dreams of Texas families and small businesses have literally been crushed storm after storm,” Abbott said. A disaster declaration issued by Abbott earlier this month now covers 106 counties.

Search and rescue missions were underway, Abbott said. In addition, several disaster relief organizations sent volunteers to help those affected.

At least eight people were killed in Arkansas after a tornado ripped through the northwestern part of the state. The weather service confirmed Sunday evening that it found damage from an EF-3 tornado near the city of Decatur, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) east of the Oklahoma border.

A preliminary EF-2 tornado was later confirmed in Paragould near the state’s northeastern border, the weather service reported on X on Monday.

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed an emergency order on Sunday allocating $250,000 for disaster relief.

“I think people just need to become very patient and understand that we’re not going to recover from this overnight,” said Arkansas Rep. Steve Womack.

In Oklahoma, the severe storms left two people dead in the town of Pryor, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of Tulsa, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management confirmed. The storms left about 8,400 people without power.

A tornado in Claremore, in the northeastern part of the state, “caused significant widespread damage,” including “downed trees, power lines and essential damage to homes,” City Manager John Feary said. The storms injured 23 people in the city, including three with life-threatening injuries, Feary said.

The Red Cross also opened two shelters in the area in the aftermath of the storm.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early Monday after at least five people died after severe storms tore through Louisville on Sunday afternoon. One person was “fighting for his life,” Beshear said at a news conference.

After an initial death toll from the storm of four, the governor told CNN that a fifth person died during the cleanup effort after overheating and suffering a heart attack. “This has certainly been a devastating series of storms for Kentucky,” Beshear said.

The deaths included a 67-year-old woman from Mercer County, a 62-year-old woman in Hardin County, a 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County and a 34-year-old man in Jefferson County.

The National Weather Service confirmed at least one tornado in Mayfield, near the southwest corner of the state. At a news conference, Beshear said the tornado traveled about 40 miles. Some twisters “spun down and then spun back up,” he added.

The severe weather hit the western part of the state hardest, damaging state highways and roads, among other things, said Jim Gray, Kentucky’s Secretary of Transportation.

One of the “major impacts” of the storm was a fuel spill caused when a dock on Dale Hollow Lake, a reservoir on the Tennessee border, broke loose. Beshear said the Energy and Environment Cabinet had deployed a Hazmat team to assess the situation.

Severe thunderstorms swept through the central U.S. over the weekend, and a lightning strike in Rand, Colorado, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northwest of Denver, killed a rancher and 34 of his cattle on Saturday, according to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.

Mike Morgan, 51, was struck while feeding his livestock, authorities said in a news release. Morgan, of Walden, Colorado, was pronounced dead at the scene, “despite lifesaving efforts by bystanders and first responders,” the news release said.

“On a personal level, Mike Morgan was an outstanding member of the community and will be greatly missed,” Meghan Rickels, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, said in an email to USA TODAY.

What to do during a tornado warning: How to stay safe at home, outside, in the car

The storm is forecast to weaken Monday as it moves across the East Coast and Southeast. Still, some damaging wind gusts are expected and there is a risk of isolated tornadoes.

Parts of Washington, DC, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina were placed under a tornado watch until Monday evening. A coastal flood warning was issued for the District of Columbia early Monday.

Up to 2 inches of rain and “localized flash flooding” were possible in New York as several severe thunderstorms will move through the New York metro area through Monday evening, according to the weather service.

Stormy weather, including isolated severe thunderstorms, is expected to return to central Texas and some parts of Oklahoma Monday afternoon and continue overnight, according to the National Weather Service.

A severe thunderstorm warning was also issued for parts of Georgia and South Carolina through Monday afternoon. The area could see hail up to an inch and one or two tornadoes, the weather service said.

According to AccuWeather, southern Arkansas, northern Louisiana and parts of Mississippi and Alabama could see wind speeds of up to 75 miles per hour.

Contributors: Olivia Evans, Leo Bertucci, Louisville Courier Journal; Reuters

Cybele Mayes-Osterman is a breaking news reporter for USA Today. Reach her via email at [email protected]. Follow her on X @CybeleMO.

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