Storms leave widespread outages across Texas, cleanup continues after deadly weekend across U.S.

Strong storms with damaging winds and baseball-sized hail pummeled Texas on Tuesday, leaving more than one million businesses and homes without power as much of the U.S. recovered from severe weather, including tornadoes, that killed at least 24 people in seven states during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Voters in the state’s runoff elections found some polling places without power. Roughly 100 voting sites in Dallas County were knocked offline. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared a disaster area and noted that some nursing homes were using generators. “This ultimately will be a multi-day power outage situation,” Jenkins said Tuesday.

More rough weather and heavy rains were forecast for the Dallas area Tuesday night. Heavy thunderstorms also were plowing toward Houston, where officials warned that winds as strong as 70 mph could cause damage less than two weeks after hurricane-force winds knocked out power to more than 800,000 homes and businesses.

Tues Weather
Drivers navigate high water on Yale Street in the Heights after a strong storm blew in on May 28, 2024, in Houston, Texas.

Karen Warren/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

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, including two young children, were killed in Cooke County, Texas, from a tornado that tore through a mobile home park Saturday, officials said, and 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 in Sikeston 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.

An 18-year-old woman was killed in North Carolina’s Clay County after a large tree landed on her trailer. Authorities also confirmed one death in Nelson County, Virginia. 

In addition to the Memorial Day weekend death toll, in Magnolia, Texas, about 40 miles north of Houston, one person died Tuesday when a house under construction collapsed during a storm, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office reported.   

Severe weather and tornadoes moved through Kentucky on Sunday afternoon and Sunday night, May 26, 2024.

Ryan Hermens/Lexington Herald-Leader/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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 earlier this month. April had the second-highest number of tornadoes on record in the country. The storms come as 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.

Tornado Causes Widespread Damage In Temple, Texas
The exterior of the Veterans of Foreign Wars facility suffered severe damage following a tornado on May 23, 2024, in Temple, Texas.

BRANDON BELL / Getty Images

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.

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