Tornado-spawning storms strike central US on Memorial Day weekend, leaving at least 18 dead

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Deadly Storms Ravage Central US

Tornado-spawning storms strike central US on Memorial Day weekend, leaving at least 18 dead
Tornado-spawning storms strike central US on Memorial Day weekend, leaving at least 18 dead

At least 18 people, including four children, have lost their lives across four states in the central United States as suspected tornadoes tore through the region overnight. The devastation comes as millions remain under threat from severe weather conditions throughout the Memorial Day weekend.

Severe Weather Threatens Millions

Nearly 109 million individuals residing across vast expanses of the US face imminent danger from large hail, damaging winds, and ferocious twisters, primarily concentrated in the mid-Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee River valleys. As the tempests advance eastward, the Storm Prediction Center has issued warnings of “violent tornadoes, extreme hail, and corridors of widespread wind damage.”

Presidential Briefing

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the unfolding storm situation, recognizing the urgency of the matter.

Unprecedented Alert

A heightened tornado watch, labeled a rare “particularly dangerous situation,” has been enacted, anticipating “several tornadoes and few intense likely.” This alert encompasses parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, affecting approximately 4.7 million individuals.

Devastating Impact

The toll of destruction is severe, with casualties reported across multiple states. Cooke County, Texas, saw the loss of at least seven lives, including two young children aged 2 and 5. Arkansas mourns the deaths of eight individuals, prompting Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders to declare a state of emergency. Additional casualties were reported in Kentucky and northeast Oklahoma.

Assessment of Damage

Survey teams dispatched by the National Weather Service have documented extensive damage, including a preliminary EF3-rated tornado in Claremore, Oklahoma, with winds reaching between 136 and 165 mph. In Texas, Valley View and Montague County suffered the brunt of the storms, prompting Governor Greg Abbott to declare a disaster in four additional counties.

Recovery and Continued Threat

As affected regions embark on the path to recovery, the threat persists. Over 600,000 customers across 12 states grapple with power outages, while the storm system moves eastward, menacing the East Coast with disruptive winds and hail. Travel hubs such as Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Nashville anticipate delays and cancellations. Moreover, the potential for heavy rainfall poses risks of flooding in several regions.

Record-breaking Heat Amidst Chaos

In a cruel twist, parts of the US are set to experience record-breaking heat, exacerbating the challenges posed by the storms. Areas such as Houston, New Orleans, and Miami brace for scorching temperatures, with heat advisories issued for southern Texas and southern Florida.

Safety Reminders

Authorities urge residents to prioritize safety measures, including staying hydrated, dressing appropriately for the heat, and seeking refuge in cooling centers if necessary.

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