Storms kill at least 19 in 4 states as spate of deadly weather continues

Ferocious storms claimed at least 19 lives, injured many, and left extensive damage across Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, reducing homes to rubble and demolishing a truck stop where numerous individuals had sought refuge in a restroom amid the most recent lethal weather impacting the central U.S. The storms wreaked havoc predominantly in an area spanning from north of Dallas to the northwest corner of Arkansas, with the system poised to unleash more violent weather in other regions of the Midwest. On Monday, meteorologists indicated that the highest risk would shift eastward, enveloping a vast portion of the nation from Alabama to near New York City. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear proclaimed a state of emergency early Monday on social media platform X, mentioning “multiple accounts of wind damage and tornadoes.”

Falling trees resulted in at least two fatalities in Kentucky, officials reported. One casualty was confirmed in Mercer County early Monday — an individual was pronounced deceased on-site and another was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. The second fatality occurred in Louisville, where a man was killed on Sunday, according to police. Louisville Mayor Craig Greenburg corroborated on social media that it was a storm-related death. Seven deaths were documented in Valley View in Cooke County, Texas, near the Oklahoma border, where a tornado on Saturday night devastated a rural area close to a mobile home park, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott stated at a press briefing on Sunday. Among the deceased were two children, ages 2 and 5, and three family members found dead in one household, as reported by the county sheriff.

EEUU-CLIMA EXTREMO

A man surveys a damaged vehicle on May 26, 2024, after a tornado swept through the day before in Valley View, Texas. 

Julio Cortez / AP

Storms also caused two deaths and demolished residences in Oklahoma, where the injured included attendees at an outdoor wedding, and eight fatalities in Arkansas.

Tens of thousands of locals were left without electricity across the affected area. In Texas, approximately 100 individuals sustained injuries, and over 200 homes and structures were destroyed, Abbott stated, seated in front of a heavily damaged truck stop near Valley View, a small farming community. The region was one of the most severely affected, with winds estimated to reach 135 mph, authorities mentioned. “The aspirations and expectations of Texas families and small businesses have literally been shattered by storm after storm,” expressed Abbott, whose state has faced successive spells of extreme weather, including storms that claimed eight lives in Houston earlier this month.

APTOPIX Severe Weather Texas

Destruction is visible on May 26, 2024, at a truck stop the morning after a tornado tore through Valley View, Texas. 

Julio Cortez / AP

Abbot revised a severe weather disaster declaration on Sunday to encompass Denton, Montague, Cooke, and Collin on a list of counties already under a disaster declaration prompted by storms and flooding in late April.

Hugo Parra, residing in Farmers Branch, north of Dallas, recounted how he weathered the storm with 40 to 50 others in the bathroom of the truck stop. The storm tore off the roof and walls of the building, twisted metal beams, and left damaged cars in the parking lot. “A firefighter came to check on us and he said, ‘You’re very lucky,'” Parra shared. “The best way to describe this is that the wind tried to pull us out of the bathrooms.” Multiple individuals were taken to hospitals by ambulance and helicopter in Denton County, also north of Dallas. No further deaths were anticipated, and no one was reported missing in Texas, Abbott added, though responders were conducting a final round of searches just in case. In Pilot Point, in the Dallas vicinity, a woman utilized her key fob to signal SOS after a tornado passed through, reported. The newspaper said the tornado overturned Amber Bryan‘s RV, trapping her inside. She expressed gratitude, saying, “Thank God, just got some bruises, nothing broken. Everything happened so fast. I just said, ‘Lord wrap your arms around me and my pets and get us through this.'”

Severe Weather Texas

A vehicle rests on a tree after a deadly tornado rolled through the previous night, on May 26, 2024, in Valley View, Texas. 

Julio Cortez / AP

Others recounted to CBS Texas how they survived when a twister tore through an RV park at a marina.

Eight individuals perished statewide in Arkansas, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed in a news conference Sunday evening. An emergency official noted two were related to storm circumstances but not directly caused by weather, including an individual who experienced a heart attack and another deprived of oxygen due to a power outage. The fatalities comprised a 26-year-old woman found outside a demolished home in Olvey, a small community in Boone County, according to Daniel Bolen of the county’s emergency management office. One person died in Benton County, and two more bodies were located in Marion County, officials stated. In Oklahoma, two individuals died in Mayes County, east of Tulsa, authorities mentioned.
Climate change and historical weather patterns
The destruction extended a somber month of deadly severe weather in the nation’s heartland. Tornadoes in Iowa last week resulted in at least five fatalities and numerous injuries. The deadly twisters are part of a historically severe tornado season, coinciding with climate change affecting storm intensity worldwide. April recorded the second-highest number of tornadoes in the country’s history.

Meteorologists and authorities issued urgent advisories to seek shelter as the storms progressed across the region late Saturday and into Sunday. “If you are in the path of this storm, take cover now!” the National Weather Service office in Norman, Oklahoma, posted on X. Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, attributed the persistent pattern of warm, moist air to the string of tornadoes over the past two months. Residents awoke Sunday to overturned vehicles and collapsed garages. Some residents could be seen pacing and evaluating the damage, while nearby, neighbors sat on the foundation of a ruined home. In Valley View, near the truck stop, the storms ripped roofs off houses and shattered windows. Clothing, insulation, fragments of plastic, and other debris were entangled around miles of barbed wire fencing surrounding grazing land in the rural area. Kevin Dorantes, 20, was in nearby Carrollton when he learned the tornado was nearing the Valley View neighborhood where he resided with his father and brother. He contacted them and instructed them to take cover in the windowless bathroom, where they weathered the storm unscathed. As Dorantes wandered through the neighborhood of downed power lines and ravaged homes, he encountered a family whose house had been reduced to splintered wreckage. A father and son were caught under the debris, and friends and neighbors rushed to rescue them, Dorantes recounted. “They were conscious but severely injured,” Dorantes said.

Impassable roads and downed power lines in Oklahoma prompted officials in the town of Claremore, near Tulsa, to announce on social media that the city was “shut down” due to the damage. The system generating the latest severe weather was anticipated to migrate east over the remainder of the holiday weekend. The Indianapolis 500 commenced four hours late following a potent storm in the area, resulting in Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials evacuating roughly 125,000 race attendees. More intense storms were forecast in Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The threat of severe weather moves into North Carolina and Virginia on Monday, forecasters indicated.

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