Severe Memorial Day Storms Leave 22 Dead Across Central and Southern U.S.

Austin, Texas – A devastating series of tornadoes swept through Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky over the Memorial Day weekend, leaving a trail of destruction and tragedy in its wake. At least 22 people lost their lives and countless others were left injured as the powerful storms ravaged homes, businesses, and communities across the central and southern United States.

In Cooke, Collin, and Denton counties in Texas, at least seven people, including two children, were killed by the reported tornadoes on a Saturday night. Governor Greg Abbott visited Cooke County, the hardest-hit area, and issued a disaster declaration for the affected counties. The storms also claimed lives in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, with Arkansas reporting eight fatalities due to the severe weather event.

The destruction caused by the storms prompted Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky to declare a state of emergency after five people lost their lives in his state. One victim, a 54-year-old man, suffered a heart attack while trying to clear fallen trees in Caldwell County, western Kentucky. As the severe weather threatened to shift towards the East Coast, forecasters issued warnings and urged vigilance among holiday revelers.

In Mayes County, Oklahoma, two individuals tragically lost their lives during the storm, which also disrupted an outdoor wedding, causing injuries to guests. Power outages affected over 400,000 customers across the eastern U.S., leaving many without electricity. President Joe Biden extended condolences to the families of the victims and assured that FEMA was on the ground conducting damage assessments.

The recent spate of tornadoes and severe weather events has been part of a grim trend in the nation’s midsection. Climate change has contributed to the increase in extreme weather events, with April seeing the second-highest number of tornadoes on record. Senior scientist Harold Brooks from the National Severe Storms Laboratory attributed the persistent pattern of tornadoes to warm, moist air and a heat dome settling over the region.

As temperatures soar to summer-like levels across the affected states, the risk of severe weather persists. The heat index in Texas reached triple digits, while record highs were set in Florida cities like Melbourne and Ft. Pierce. The ongoing severe weather conditions underscore the urgency of addressing climate change and its impact on natural disasters.