At least 18 die as tornadoes hit central US

Severe storms and suspected tornadoes have left at least 18 people dead in four states across the central United States. Millions are facing ongoing severe weather threats through the Memorial Day weekend, with areas under the risk of large hail, damaging winds, and violent tornadoes. President Joe Biden has been briefed on the situation.

A particularly dangerous tornado watch has been issued for parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee, impacting 4.7 million people. The storms are expected to bring intense supercell thunderstorms capable of producing large hail, damaging wind gusts, and multiple tornadoes.

Several casualties have been reported, including seven deaths in Cooke County, Texas, where two children were among the victims. At least eight people have died in Arkansas, prompting Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders to declare a state of emergency. Additional deaths were reported in Kentucky and northeast Oklahoma, where teams from the National Weather Service found severe damage.

In north Denton County, Texas, a possible tornado caused injuries, damaged homes, and overturned vehicles. The Lake Ray Roberts Marina in Denton County sustained significant damage to boats and structures. Governor Greg Abbott has signed a disaster declaration for four additional counties in Texas.

More than 600,000 customers across 12 states were without power by Sunday evening, with a level 3 risk of severe thunderstorms in parts of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys. Storms are expected to move towards the East Coast, potentially causing flight delays and cancellations in travel hubs like Chicago and Nashville.

In addition to severe weather, record-breaking high temperatures are forecast for parts of the US on Monday. Southern Texas and southern Florida are under excessive heat warnings, with high temperatures and heat indexes exceeding 115 degrees possible in some areas.

As people deal with the aftermath of the storms and extreme heat, it is important to stay hydrated, wear lightweight clothing, and seek out cooling centers if necessary. The situation remains challenging, and authorities are closely monitoring developments to ensure the safety and well-being of those affected.

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