UNITED STATES NEWS

Storms leave widespread outages across Texas, cleanup continues after deadly weekend across US

May 28, 2024, 5:05 AM | Updated: 7:10 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — Strong storms with damaging winds and baseball-sized hail pummeled Texas on Tuesday, leaving one person dead and about 1 million businesses and homes without power as much of the U.S. recovered from severe weather, including tornadoes, that killed at least 24 people during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Widespread outages were reported across a wide swath of storm-weary Texas, where an oppressive, early-season heat wave added to the misery. Voters in the state’s runoff elections found dozens of polling places without power. Dallas County said it would keep polls open two hours later because of the outages Tuesday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a disaster and noted that some nursing homes were using generators. “This ultimately will be a multiday power outage situation,” Jenkins said Tuesday.

Social media posts showed winds pushing one American Airlines plane away from a gate at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

The airline said in a statement that the severe weather, including straight-line wind gusts up to 80 mph, affected several parked and unoccupied aircraft. No one was injured.

“Our maintenance team is currently conducting thorough inspections and will make any needed repairs,” the statement said.

The airport said in an email to The Associated Press that about 500 flights were canceled because of the weather. Nearly another 200 flights were canceled at Dallas Love Field Airport, according to the website FlightAware.

Around Houston, cars crawled through flooded highways and more than 300,000 customers were without power in the area, which includes parts still recovering from hurricane-force winds earlier this month.

The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that a 16-year-old boy died when a home under construction began to shift and then collapsed during a thunderstorm in the Houston suburb of Magnolia. The teen was confirmed to be an employee of the construction company and was authorized to be on the site, the statement said.

An East Houston school district issued a shelter-in-place order and directed buses with students back to their campuses in the afternoon until the weather subsided.

Destructive storms over the weekend caused deaths in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia. Meanwhile in the Midwest, an unusual weather phenomenon called a “gustnado” that looks like a small tornado brought some dramatic moments to a western Michigan lake over the weekend.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Deanne Criswell will travel to Arkansas on Wednesday as the Biden administration continues assessing the damage from the weekend tornadoes.

Seven people were killed in Cooke County, Texas, from a tornado that tore through a mobile home park Saturday, officials said, and an additional seven deaths were reported across Arkansas.

Two people died in Mayes County, Oklahoma, east of Tulsa, authorities said. The injured included guests at an outdoor wedding. A Missouri man died Sunday after a tree limb fell onto his tent as he was camping.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said five people had died in his state during storms that struck close to where a devastating swarm of twisters killed 81 people in December 2021. One family lost their home for a second time on the same lot where a twister leveled their house less than three years ago.

Roughly 150,000 homes and businesses lacked electricity midday Tuesday in Louisiana, Kentucky, Arkansas, West Virginia and Missouri.

It has been a grim month of tornadoes and severe weather in the nation’s midsection.

Tornadoes in Iowa last week left at least five people dead and dozens injured. Storms killed eight people in Houston this month. April had the climate change contributes in general to the severity of storms around the world.

Late May is the peak of tornado season, but the recent storms have been exceptionally violent, producing very strong tornadoes, said Victor Gensini, a meteorology professor at Northern Illinois University.

“Over the weekend, we’ve had a lot of hot and humid air, a lot of gasoline, a lot of fuel for these storms. And we’ve had a really strong jet stream as well. That jet stream has been aiding in providing the wind shear necessary for these types of tornadoes,” Gensini said.

Harold Brooks, a senior scientist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma, said a persistent pattern of warm, moist air is to blame for the string of tornadoes over the past two months.

That air is at the northern edge of a heat dome bringing temperatures typically seen at the height of summer to late May.

The heat index — a combination of air temperature and humidity to indicate how the heat feels to the human body — reached triple digits in parts of south Texas and was expected to stay there for several days.

For more information on recent tornado reports, see The Associated Press Tornado Tracker.

___

Associated Press journalists around the country contributed to this report, including Paul J. Weber, Ken Miller, Jennifer McDermott, Sarah Brumfield, Kathy McCormack, Acacia Coronado, Jeffrey Collins, Bruce Schreiner, Julio Cortez and Valerie Gonzalez.

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Storms leave widespread outages across Texas, cleanup continues after deadly weekend across US