Severe Memorial Day weather: Powerful US storms head east after killing dozens

VALLEY VIEW, Texas (AP) — Powerful storms have killed at least 18 people, injured hundreds and left a wide path of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas as weather batters the Central United States.

The storms caused the worst damage in an area that stretched from north of Dallas to the northwest corner of Arkansas, and the system threatened to bring more violent weather to other parts of the Midwest. On Monday, forecasters said the greatest danger would move eastward, covering a wide swath of the country from Alabama to near New York City.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced the state of emergency early Monday morning in a post on the social media site X, citing “multiple reports of wind damage and tornadoes.”

Seven deaths were reported in Cook County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, after a tornado ripped through a rural area near a mobile home park Saturday night, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference Sunday. The dead included two children, ages 2 and 5. Three family members were found dead in the same home, the county sheriff said.

Connie Buckingham looks at storm damage from the front door of her son’s home, where she also lives, Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Claremore, Okla. (Mike Simons/Tulsa World via AP)

Sunday, May 26, 2024, at the shopping center at West Walnut Avenue and North 24th Street in Rogers, Ark., damaged by storm Popeyes.

Sunday, May 26, 2024, at the shopping center at West Walnut Avenue and North 24th Street in Rogers, Ark., damaged by storm Popeyes.

The storms killed two people and destroyed homes in Oklahoma, while the injured included guests at an outdoor wedding, eight people in Arkansas and one person in Kentucky. Tens of thousands of people across the region were left without electricity.

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In Texas, about 100 people were injured and more than 200 homes and structures were destroyed, Abbott said, sitting in front of a dilapidated truck stop near the small farming community of Valley View. The area was the hardest hit, with winds gusting to 135 mph (217 kph), officials said.

“The hopes and dreams of Texas families and small businesses have been crushed by storm after storm,” said Abbott, whose state has seen a series of bouts of severe weather, including hurricanes. Eight people were killed in Houston Earlier this month.

Abbott signed a revised severe weather disaster declaration on Sunday, adding Denton, Montague, Cook and Collin to the list of counties already under disaster declaration triggered by storms and flooding in late April.

Hugo Parra, who lives in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, said he rode out the storm with 40 to 50 people in a truck stop bathroom. The storm ripped through the building’s roof and walls, shattered metal beams and left cars stranded in the parking lot.

“A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re so lucky,'” Parra said. “The best way to describe it is that the wind tried to get us out of the bathroom.”

Will Worthy, left, and Lindsey Worthy of Rogers help clear debris from a fallen tree at Betty Wood's home on South 24th Street Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Rogers, Ark.  Powerful storms left a wide path of destruction across Texas.  , Oklahoma and Arkansas.  (Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via Charlie Kaijo/AP)

Will Worthy, left, and Lindsay Worthy of Rogers help clear debris from a downed tree at Betty Wood’s home on South 24th Street Sunday, May 26, 2024, in Rogers, Ark. via AP)

Damage is seen at a truck stop in the morning after a tornado hit Valley View, Texas, Sunday, May 26, 2024.  Powerful storms left a wide path of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Sunday.

Damage is seen at a truck stop in the morning after a tornado hit Valley View, Texas, Sunday, May 26, 2024. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Many were taken by ambulance and helicopter to hospitals in Denton County, north of Dallas.

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No more deaths are expected and no one is missing in Texas, Abbott said, although responders are still conducting a round of searches.

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed at a press conference Sunday evening that eight people have died statewide in Arkansas. Two deaths, including one who suffered a heart attack and one who lost oxygen after a power outage, were attributed to storm conditions but not directly caused by the weather, an emergency official said.

Among the deaths was a 26-year-old woman found dead outside a destroyed home in Olvie, a small community in Boone County, said Daniel Bolen of the county’s Office of Emergency Management. One person died in Benton County, and two more bodies were found in Marion County, officials said.

In Oklahoma, two people died in Mayes County, east of Tulsa, officials said.

In Kentucky, one person was killed Sunday after a tree fell in Louisville, police said. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg confirmed on social media that it was a storm-related death.

Deadly series of storms

The destruction followed a severe month of deadly severe weather in the middle of the country.

A tornado hit Iowa last week At least five people died And dozens were injured. The deadly twisters have developed during a historically worst hurricane season, at the time Climate change Contributes to the intensity of storms around the world. It was April The second highest number of hurricanes reported in the country.

Destroyed homes are seen in Valley View, Texas, Sunday, May 26, 2024, after a tornado swept through the previous night.  Powerful storms left a wide path of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas on Sunday.

Destroyed homes are seen in Valley View, Texas, Sunday, May 26, 2024, after a tornado swept through the previous night. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Meteorologists and officials issued emergency warnings as storms marched across the region late Saturday and into Sunday. “If you are in the path of this storm, take cover now!” Published in X by the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma.

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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.

Houses collapsed and roads were blocked

People woke up on Sunday to overturned cars and collapsed garages. Some residents were seen assessing the damage and speeding. Nearby, neighbors sat on the foundations of a ruined house.

In Valley View, near a truck stop, storms tore roofs off homes and blew out windows. Clothes, insulation, pieces of plastic and other debris are wrapped around miles of barbed wire surrounding pastureland in the countryside.

Kevin Torrance, 20, was in nearby Carrollton when he learned of the tornado in the Valley View neighborhood where he lived with his father and brother. He calls the two and tells them to hide in a windowless bathroom, where they ride out the storm and survive unscathed.

As Torrentez wanders through a neighborhood of downed power lines and dilapidated houses, he encounters a family whose home has been reduced to a pile of scattered rubble. A father and son were trapped under the rubble, and friends and neighbors ran to pull them out, Torrentez said.

“They were conscious but seriously injured,” Torrentez said.

Widespread power outages

The severe weather knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes and businesses in the storm’s path.

As of late Sunday, more than 80,000 customers were without power in Arkansas. In neighboring Missouri, more than 90,000 people were without power. According to the monitoring website, Texas recorded 27,000 outages, while Oklahoma reported 3,000 outages. power cut. us.

Inaccessible roads and downed power lines in Oklahoma led officials in the town of Claremore, near Tulsa, to announce on social media that the town was “shut down” due to the damage.

More severe weather in the forecast

The latest severe weather system was expected to move east over the holiday weekend.

The Indianapolis 500 started four hours late after a strong storm pushed into the area, forcing Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to evacuate some 125,000 race fans.

Severe storms are forecast for Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

A severe weather threat will move into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday, forecasters said.

To follow the storm system’s progress, check out The Associated Press Tornado Tracker.

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Associated Press reporters Sophia Tareen in Chicago, Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, Acacia Coronado in Austin, Texas, Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, Sarah Klein in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Daniel Jesse Bedein contributed to this report.

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