Tornado Outbreak Devastates Southern Plains and Ozark Mountains, Leaving 21 Dead and Hundreds of Buildings Wrecked

Tornado Outbreak Devastates Southern Plains and Ozark Mountains, Leaving 21 Dead and Hundreds of Buildings Wrecked

Tornado-spawning thunderstorms that swept through the Southern Plains and the Ozark Mountains have resulted in at least 21 fatalities across four U.S. states by Monday afternoon, damaging hundreds of buildings, with forecasters warning of more severe weather ahead.

Tornado Outbreak Devastates Southern Plains and Ozark Mountains, Leaving 21 Dead and Hundreds of Buildings Wrecked
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Over the three-day Memorial Day holiday weekend, the death toll included at least eight fatalities in Arkansas, seven in Texas, four in Kentucky, and two in Oklahoma, as reported by state emergency authorities.

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for parts of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania until Monday evening, according to the National Weather Service. This watch affected more than 30 million people in the Northeast, as the storms were expected to move towards the East Coast.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency early on Monday. The weather service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the Atlanta area, other parts of Georgia, and several western South Carolina counties until at least Monday afternoon. “It was a tough night for our people,” Beshear posted on social media platform X on Monday. He later stated in a press briefing that devastating storms had impacted nearly the entire state, damaging 100 state highways and roads, according to officials.

At least seven people, including a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old, were killed and nearly 100 were injured on Saturday night when a powerful tornado hit communities in North Texas near the Oklahoma border, Governor Greg Abbott said at a Sunday news conference.

Late on Sunday, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders reported at least eight deaths in her state due to the storms. An Arkansan suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease died from a lack of oxygen when the power went out.

President Joe Biden expressed condolences for the lives lost during his Monday conversations with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, Governor Abbott, and Governor Sanders, the White House said.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency was conducting damage assessments with state and local counterparts, and Biden directed federal agencies to provide necessary support.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans were without power on Monday due to the storms, according to the PowerOutage.US tracking website. In Kentucky alone, more than 160,000 customers were without electricity.

In some areas, restoring power could take days, Governor Beshear noted in a news briefing.

The weather service warned that additional storms could move through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, bringing damaging winds, large hail, more tornadoes, and heavy downpours capable of causing flash floods.

This extreme weather follows just days after a powerful tornado struck an Iowa town, killing four people, with more twisters touching down in Texas last week. The U.S. is preparing for what government forecasters have described as a potentially “extraordinary” 2024 Atlantic hurricane season beginning next Saturday.

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