At least 18 people are dead after tornado-spawning storms strike the central US on Memorial Day weekend | CNN (2024)


At least 18 people, including four children, are dead in four states after suspected tornadoes struck the central United States overnight and as millions face continued severe weather threats through the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend.

Just under 109 million people across broad swaths of the US were under threat of large hail, damaging winds and a fierce twisters Sunday, mainly throughout the mid-Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee River valleys. As the storms move east, the Storm Prediction Center warned of “violent tornadoes, extreme hail and corridors of widespread wind damage.”

President Joe Biden has been briefed on the storms.

A heightened tornado watch designated as a rare “particularly dangerous situation” calling for “several tornadoes and few intense likely” went into effect on Sunday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.


The watch covers parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee – including in St. Louis and Jefferson City, Missouri; Paducah, Kentucky; and Carbondale, Illinois – and impacts 4.7 million people.

This is a special kind of tornado watch issued only when there’s unusually high confidence in the potential of multiple at least EF2-strength and long-lived tornadoes in the area, according to the National Weather Service.

The supercell thunderstorms firing up in the watch area will also be capable of large hail bigger than the size of baseballs and damaging wind gusts to 75 mph.

“Intense supercell thunderstorms will continue to develop across the watch area through this evening. Several tornadoes are likely, some of which are expected to be intense. Very large hail is also likely, along with the risk for potentially significant damaging wind gusts,” says the Storm Prediction Center.

Severe storms kill over a dozen people

At least seven people in Cooke County, Texas, were killed when severe storms hit the area Saturday night, Sheriff Ray Sappington told CNN. Two victims were 2 and 5 years old.

At least eight people died in Arkansas, officials say.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders declared a state of emergency Sunday afternoon to support the severe weather and tornado-ravaged parts of the state.

One person died in Kentucky, according to Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg.

In northeast Oklahoma, two people were killed and at least 23 were injured as a result of severe storms overnight, local officials told CNN.

Survey teams from the National Weather Service found severe damage Sunday in Claremore, Oklahoma, giving the tornado a preliminary rating of EF3 – which pack winds between 136 and 165 mph.

Inside a Shell gas station in northeast Texas, 60 to 80 people were trapped until the storm blew over, Sappington said. Multiple injuries were reported at the station, but none were life-threatening, he added.

At least 18 people are dead after tornado-spawning storms strike the central US on Memorial Day weekend | CNN (2)

City of Denton (Texas) Fire Department shares photo of damaged building following severe weather reported in area.

In north Denton County, a possible tornado injured an unknown number of people, damaged several homes, overturned 18-wheelers, downed trees and knocked out power lines on Saturday night, authorities said early Sunday.

“Multiple victims” were reported in Ray Roberts after severe weather struck the area overnight, city of Denton fire officialssaid.

Damage to several homes was also reported in the neighboring city of Celina, where officials said the city was affected by “apparenttornadic activity” on Saturday.

A forecast model shows one way severe thunderstorms could develop Saturday night. CNN Weather Related article Weather Service issues ‘particularly dangerous situation’ tornado watch for parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas

Lake Ray Roberts Marinain the city of Sanger in Denton County sustained damage to boats, boat houses and the fuel dock by the severe weather Saturday night. Despite reports of people rescued after being trapped in overturned RVs, there are no reports of serious injuries.

“There is so much damage, we don’t even know where to start,” the marina said in aFacebook postSunday morning.

“We know the boat houses are heavily damaged, all have lost walkways, and most boats are damaged,” the post said. “We lost our fuel dock and offices along with our dock cat, Ginger.”

A survey team with the National Weather Service in Dallas found that a tornado of at least a preliminary rating of EF2 strength struck Valley View in northern Texas with estimated maximum winds of 135 mph.

The team also said damage found in south Montague County, just south of Forestburg, was consistent with an EF2 tornado and estimated maximum winds of 125 mph.

Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday signed a disaster declaration for four additional counties – Denton, Collin, Cooke and Montague – bringing the total to 106 counties.

“I saw the harrowing video inside the Valley View gas station as the tornado passed through with the people stockpiled in their clinging to safety,” Abbott said at a news conference, adding that it’s a “miracle” everyone made it out alive.

At least 100 people have been injured in Texas, said Abbott, who referred to the deaths as a “heart-wrenching loss of life.”

At least 18 people are dead after tornado-spawning storms strike the central US on Memorial Day weekend | CNN (4)

Vehicles in a body shop are seen amid debris the morning after a tornado rolled through in Valley View, Texas.

As damaged areas recover, storms move east

More than 600,000 customers across 12 states were without power by Sunday evening, including more than 135,000 outages in Kentucky alone, according to the tracking

There is a Level 3 of 5 risk of severe thunderstorms over parts of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys into Monday morning, and EF2 to EF5 tornadoes and wind gusts of 74 mph are possible, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

A forecast model depicts one way storms could develop over Memorial Day weekend.

Storms will movetoward the East Coast on Monday, bringing disruptive high winds and large hail from DC through the Southeast.

The travel hubs of Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Nashville could have to contend with damaging storms, leading to delayed or canceled flights.

The potential for heavy rain over parts of the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, middle Mississippi Valley, and Central Appalachians prompted the slight risk, Level 2 of 4, of excessive rainfall in those regions through Monday morning.

Louisville, Kentucky; Cincinnati; St. Louis; Nashville and Indianapolis are among the cities included in the Level 3 threat.

Record-breaking heat possible for some

The unofficial start of summer is also ushering in sweltering heat, reaching potentially record high temperatures for parts of the US on Monday.

Houston; New Orleans; Miami; Mobile, Alabama, Tampa, Florida; and Charleston, South Carolina, are among locations where warm weather will feel more like July than late May through the holiday weekend.

A subtropical upper-level high over Mexico will help spawn excessive heat warnings and heat advisories over southern Texas through Monday, according to the Storm Prediction Center. “The ridging will create a dangerous early-season heat wave over south Texas and southern Florida,” according to the center.

Daily high temperatures and heat index reading exceeding 115 are possible in some areas, the Storm Prediction Center noted.

Those spending time outdoors or who are dealing with a loss of power should drink enough water, dress in lightweight clothing and locate cooling centers if necessary.

CNN meteorologist Elliana Hebert and CNN’s Ed Lavandera, Jillian Sykes, Chris Boyette and Cindy Von Quednow contributed to this report.

At least 18 people are dead after tornado-spawning storms strike the central US on Memorial Day weekend | CNN (2024)


How many people died in the Texas tornado last night? ›

Expand All. The tornado that ripped through Valley View on Saturday night destroyed more than 200 homes and other structures, damaged another 120 buildings, and injured around 100 people. Seven people were killed.

How many people died in the Arkansas tornado? ›

BENTONVILLE -- Tornadoes ripped through north Arkansas on early Sunday resulting in eight fatalities, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news conference Sunday night at the Benton County sheriff's office with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, state officials and area mayors.

Has there ever been a F6 tornado? ›

In total, two tornadoes received the rating of F6, but both were later downgraded to F5. Based on aerial photographs of the damage it caused, Fujita assigned the strongest tornado of the 1974 Super Outbreak, which affected Xenia, Ohio, a preliminary rating of F6 intensity ± 1 scale.

Where in the United States are tornadoes likely to strike? ›

The U.S. tornado threat shifts from the Southeast in the cooler months of the year, toward the southern and central Plains in May and June, and the northern Plains and Midwest during early summer. Tornadoes can occur and have been reported in all fifty states!

When was the last tornado in Texas in 2024? ›

A derecho and tornado in mid-May blasted 100 mph wind gusts through the Houston metro, killing multiple people and knocking out power for days. Storm damage is seen in the Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, area on May 28, 2024.

What part of Texas has never had a tornado? ›

What part of Texas has no tornadoes? While no part of Texas is immune from tornadoes, areas of far West Texas, El Paso, and Central Texas see the lowest occurrence of tornadoes in the state.

What was the worst tornado death? ›

The deadliest tornado in world history was the Daulatpur–Saturia tornado in Bangladesh on April 26, 1989, which killed approximately 1,300 people. In the history of Bangladesh, at least 19 tornadoes killed more than 100 people each, almost half of the total for the world.

When was the last ef5 tornado in Arkansas? ›

As is the case across the country, the average Arkansas tornado since 1950 is very weak (F1. 25); there has been only one recorded F5 tornado in the state, on April 10, 1929.

What state has the most deaths from tornadoes? ›

Answer 1: Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi. Of the 941 fatalities caused by tornadoes since 2010, 57% have occurred in these three states alone and only by a few very powerful and large tornadoes.

What is a F12 tornado? ›

An F12 tornado would have winds of about 740 MPH, the speed of sound. Roughly 3/4 of all tornadoes are EF0 or EF1 tornadoes and have winds that are less than 100 MPH. EF4 and EF5 tornadoes are rare but cause the majority of tornado deaths.

What is an F7 tornado? ›

As the max “F5” is 318 mph, the upper wind-speed range for this tornado is actually slightly beyond an F5, although it is officially listed as an F5. If you extended the “F-scale” based on winds, an F7 would be something like 380 to 450 mph, and would be several miles across.

Has there ever been a F12 tornado? ›

Though the F scale actually peaked at F12 (Mach 1), only F1 through F5 were used in practice, with F0 attached for tornadoes of winds weaker than hurricane force.

Where is Tornado Alley in 2024? ›

"Tornado Alley" has sprung back to life, with the majority of tornadoes erupting in central U.S. states which include: Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Tornado activity is still extremely active this month.

What state has never had a tornado? ›

Tornadoes have been documented in every U.S. state (not including the non-state territories of Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico) at least once since 1950, although some regions and states are hit by tornadoes far more than others.

What state has had the most tornadoes in 2024? ›

As of the latest data released April 18, Ohio has seen more tornadoes in 2024 than its entire yearly average. OHIO, USA — Ohio's tornado count is leading the nation and continues to climb. Typically each year, Ohio will see on average 21 tornadoes. That total was surpassed in early April.

Where did the tornado hit in Texas? ›

Tornadoes in North Texas resulted in at least seven deaths and significant damage. At least three tornadoes were confirmed Saturday night in Cooke, Collin, and Denton counties. On Sunday, Gov. Greg Abbott added these counties, along with Montague County, to the state's disaster declaration.

How many people died during Texas storm? ›

Texas has added 36 more deaths to the official death toll from the February snow and ice storm, bringing the total to 246 in what was one of the worst natural disasters in the state's history.

Which tornado killed the most people? ›

Deadliest single tornado in US history

The Tri-State tornado of March 18, 1925, killed 695 people in Missouri (11), Illinois (613), and Indiana (71). The outbreak it occurred with was also the deadliest known tornado outbreak, with a combined death toll of 747 across the Mississippi River Valley.

How many of the Texas tornados are still alive? ›

Decades later, though only half the Texas Tornados are alive, the remaining band members continue to take their unique musical genre to audiences across the country.

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