At least 21 people dead as storms leave path of destruction across central US | Oklahoma

Potent storms were moving into the eastern half of the US on Monday, after claiming at least 21 lives, injuring hundreds, demolishing residences, and leaving a swath of devastation that spanned across Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas over the Memorial weekend. As the weather system advanced into Georgia, the Storm Prediction Center issued a severe thunderstorm watch for more than 7 million individuals in the state and South Carolina. Intense rainfall is anticipated to drench areas of the East Coast, where destruction from fierce winds is also plausible. Scorching heat will also strike sections of the south. Altogether, over 120 million are under dire weather alerts, concentrated over the East Coast, where authorities are urging citizens to take safety measures. Weather fatalities over the weekend were reported in four states, including eight in Arkansas, seven in Texas, two in Oklahoma and two in Kentucky. On Monday, more than 187,000 customers were without electricity in Kentucky, according to the tracking site poweroutage.us. Approximately 84,000 customers were without electricity in Alabama; 74,000, West Virginia; 70,000, Missouri; and 63,000, Arkansas. The Indianapolis 500 commenced four hours late after a severe storm moved into the vicinity, compelling Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to evacuate about 125,000 race enthusiasts. In Oklahoma, inaccessible roads and fallen power lines also led officials in the town of Claremore, close to Tulsa, to declare that the city was “shut down”.

A man inspects a wrecked car after a tornado struck on Saturday, in Valley View, Texas. Photograph: Julio Cortez/AP

A corridor of devastation stretching from north of Dallas to the north-west corner of Arkansas, recorded the highest concentration of casualties and havoc. The Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear proclaimed a state of emergency early Monday in a post on social media platform X, citing “multiple reports of wind damage and tornadoes”. Seven fatalities were reported in Cooke county, Texas, close to the Oklahoma boundary, where a tornado Saturday night tore through a rural area near a mobile home park, Texas governor Greg Abbott mentioned at a news conference Sunday. The deceased included two children, aged two and five. Three family members were discovered deceased in one home, according to the county sheriff. Roughly 100 people were wounded and more than 200 homes and structures obliterated, Abbott stated, seated in front of a devastated truck stop near the small farming community of Valley View. Winds in the area reached an estimated 135mph, authorities indicated. “The aspirations and ambitions of Texas families and small enterprises have quite literally been shattered by storm after storm,” Abbott said. Texas has experienced successive bouts of severe weather, including storms that killed eight people in Houston earlier this month. Hugo Parra, who resides in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, said he weathered the storm with 40 to 50 individuals in the bathroom of the truck stop. The storm ripped the roof and walls off the edifice, twisting metal beams and leaving battered cars in the parking lot. “A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re very fortunate,’” Parra said. “The most accurate way to depict this is the wind tried to wrench us out of the bathrooms.” In nearby Carrollton, Kevin Dorantes, 20, said that when he discovered a tornado was approaching, he called his father and brother and instructed them to seek refuge in the windowless bathroom. They survived but he later found two individuals in a demolished house in the neighborhood. “They were conscious but severely hurt,” Dorantes said.

People survey the destruction at First Baptist Church, on Sunday, in Claremore, Oklahoma. Photograph: Mike Simons/AP

Storms also claimed two lives and wrecked homes in Oklahoma, where the injured included attendees at an outdoor wedding, eight individuals in Arkansas, and two people in Kentucky. An Arkansas state emergency official stated two of the fatalities were due to the circumstances of the storm but not directly caused by the weather. One died from a heart attack, another when they were deprived of oxygen when the power went out. In Kentucky, a man was killed Sunday in Louisville when a tree fell on him, and in Oklahoma, two people perished in Mayes County, east of Tulsa. The deadly series of weather-related destruction comes as the highest hurricane season forecast was issued by the national oceanographic and atmospheric administration forecasters on Thursday with eight to 13 hurricanes and 17 to 25 named storms predicted. In April, the second-highest number of tornadoes were recorded across the nation. Last week, at least five individuals were killed by tornadoes in Iowa. Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, said a persistent pattern of warm, moist air is responsible for the series of tornadoes over the past two months.

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