At least 18 people, including four children have been confirmed dead after a series of tornado-spawning storms swept through the central US over Memorial Day weekend. Several states including Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky had numerous injuries reported and emergency response efforts underway.

US: At Least 18 Dead from Tornadoes and Storms

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Just under 109 million people across the US were under threat of large hail, damaging winds, and violent tornadoes on Sunday.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a tornado watch designated as a “particularly dangerous situation” for parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee.

The watch area included major cities like St. Louis, Missouri; Jefferson City, Missouri; Paducah, Kentucky; and Carbondale, Illinois, impacting 4.7 million people.

The supercell thunderstorms in the watch area were capable of producing large hail bigger than baseballs and damaging wind gusts up to 75 mph.

In Texas at least seven people including two children aged 2 and 5 were killed in Cooke County. A tornado caused damage, overturning semi-trucks on Interstate 35 and damaging about 200 homes.

Valley View and Sanger reported damage with 60 to 80 people trapped inside a Shell gas station. Governor Greg Abbott signed a disaster declaration for four additional counties bringing the total to 106 counties.

Over 100 people were injured with close to 100 people hospitalized. In Arkansas eight confirmed deaths including a 73-year-old woman in Baxter County and fatalities in Boone, Benton, and Marion counties.

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency to support tornado-ravaged areas. Damage was reported in Rogers and other parts of the state.

In Oklahoma two people were killed in Claremore, where a tornado was rated EF3 with winds between 136 and 165 mph.

At least 23 people were injured with 19 taken to hospitals, three with possible life-threatening injuries.

One person died in Louisville due to the storms. Over 135,000 customers were without power in Kentucky alone.

In Texas a preliminary EF2 tornado struck Valley View with estimated maximum winds of 135 mph. Damage was also consistent with an EF2 tornado in south Montague County with winds up to 125 mph.

In Celina, several homes were damaged, and “significant impact” was reported at Martin Elementary, Moore Middle School and Celina High School.

In Arkansas, damage was reported in multiple counties with downed trees and power lines. Survey teams from the National Weather Service found damage indicative of strong tornado activity.

Over 600,000 customers across 12 states were without power by Sunday evening. The hardest-hit states included Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma.

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Huge damage to homes, businesses, marinas, and schools was reported across the affected regions. Lake Ray Roberts Marina in Texas reported damage to boats, boat houses, and the fuel dock. In Valley View, Texas, the storm caused damage to structures with entire neighborhoods affected.

A petrol station and rest stop were almost completely destroyed with twisted metal strewn over damaged vehicles. Tornadoes overturned lorries, shut down a highway near Dallas, and left tens of thousands without power.

Frank Soltysiak, a resident of a mobile home park in north Texas described how his home was destroyed within minutes. He took shelter in a restaurant’s walk-in refrigerator.

Five people were killed in Arkansas including a 26-year-old woman found outside a destroyed home in Olvey and a person in Benton County. Multiple injuries were reported and emergency crews conducted several rescues.

In Mayes County, two people were killed and six others injured. The local emergency management authority confirmed the fatalities and ongoing search and rescue operations.

A man in Louisville was killed by a falling tree during the storm, confirmed by Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg.

Nearly 500,000 people were left without electricity across states from Texas to Kentucky. The National Weather Service warned of severe winds and hail as the storm system moved east with further severe weather anticipated in the Midwest and possibly extending to the East Coast.

The Indianapolis 500 race was delayed by four hours due to lightning, thunder, and heavy rain, forcing the evacuation of approximately 125,000 spectators.

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The National Weather Service issued warnings to seek cover, highlighting the risk from the storm system.

The tornado’s impact in Texas resulted in 100 injuries and over 200 homes and structures destroyed. A truck stop near Valley View, where dozens sought shelter was obliterated.

Hugo Parra who sheltered in the truck stop’s bathroom with 40-50 others described the storm ripping off the building’s roof and walls.

Multiple deaths were reported with one woman found dead in Olvey and additional fatalities in Benton and Marion Counties.

Two fatalities occurred in Mayes County with structural damage and power outages affecting the region.

The severe weather has been linked to patterns of warm, moist air by climate change. April 2024 saw the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the US.

Experts including Harold Brooks from the National Severe Storms Laboratory advised travelers to have emergency plans in place. Residents in threatened areas should identify safe shelters and be prepared for sudden weather changes.

By late Sunday, power outages were reported with over 80,000 customers in Arkansas, 90,000 in Missouri, 27,000 in Texas, and 3,000 in Oklahoma without power.

The storms were expected to move toward the East Coast on Monday bringing high winds and large hail from Washington, D.C., through the Southeast.

Major travel hubs like Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and Nashville faced disruptions due to severe weather.

Record-breaking heat was forecasted for parts of the US with temperatures feeling more like July than late May.

Cities such as Houston, New Orleans, Miami, Mobile, Tampa, and Charleston were under excessive heat warnings.

Heat index readings exceeding 115 degrees were possible, prompting advisories for residents to stay hydrated and find cooling centers.

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