Live updates: Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky face tornadoes and severe weather | CNN

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At least 23 killed in tornado-spawning storms sweeping central US

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Video shows devastating tornado hit Kentucky
00:50 - Source: CNN

What we covered here

  • At least 23 people, including four children, are dead in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kentucky and Alabama after severe weather and tornadoes struck the central United States this weekend.
  • The sprawling storms on Sunday created the most active severe storm day of the year. 
  • Thunderstorms and high winds continued into Monday for a significant portion of the Northeast.

Our live coverage has concluded. Please scroll through the posts below to learn about the severe weather impact across the US this weekend.

36 Posts

Feeling lucky to be alive, Texas man describes crouching over his wife as tornado blew through the city

Michael Gonzalez, who lives in Valley View, Texas, said he was doing some late-night work on Saturday when his wife came to alert him they needed to take shelter.

The lights started flickering and he grabbed a headlight and went down the hallway when the tornado hit, he said. 

“About the time I got at the end of the hallway right before I got to her, it hit. And it blew in like crazy,” Gonzalez said.  

He said he knew they would not make it to the storm shelter so Gonzalez crouched over his wife in a corner “until it ended.”

In the aftermath, Gonzalez said the couple was feeling “a little bit tender — we’re a little bit beat up. It was a doozie that’s for sure.”

After conducting storm surveys, the National Weather Service said initial findings indicated that the tornado that struck Valley View was of at least EF2 strength. At least seven people were killed by the severe storms Saturday night, Sheriff Ray Sappington told CNN.

Severe weather ripped through the central US this weekend. Here's what we know

At least 23 people are dead in several states after severe weather and tornadoes struck the central United States this weekend.

The sprawling storms on Sunday created the most active severe storm day of the year. 

Thunderstorms and high winds continued into Monday for a significant portion of the Northeast.

Ongoing alerts:

Here’s what else to know:

  • Kentucky: Five people died in Kentucky as a result of the severe weather, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. Video showed the aftermath of a tornado in Charleston with cars tossed into the piles of debris and the remains of houses. Teams from the National Weather Service are being sent to survey the tornado damage.
  • Alabama: One person was killed by a large tree that fell onto a residential building in Mountain Brook, according to the fire department. Storms brought wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour and large hail.
  • Texas: At least seven people were killed in the town of Valley View in Cooke County when severe storms struck Saturday night, Sheriff Ray Sappington said. Of those, a woman and two of her children were killed when a tornado struck their home. Laura Esparza and her children Marco, 10, and Miranda, 16, died after their trailer was thrown across a street, Esparza’s brother-in-law told CNN.
  • Oklahoma: Two people died and several others were injured in the storms, according to officials. Survey teams from the National Weather Service found severe damage in Claremore, northeastern Oklahoma, indicating the tornado was at least a category EF3. Three horses had to be euthanized at Will Rogers Down, which was in the direct path of that tornado, according to Joe Lucas, a spokesperson for the state’s Thoroughbred Racing Association.
  • Arkansas: At least eight people were killed in severe weather that left large amounts of debris in parts of the state’s northwest, according to officials. It left houses with missing roofs and a lot of downed trees, according to Lori Arnold-Ellis, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross of Greater Arkansas.
  • An active weather weekend: Sunday was the most active severe storm day of the year. There were at least 622 preliminary reports of severe weather spanning from Wyoming to New Hampshire, according to Storm Prediction Center data. The previous high was 565 reports on May 8. Among Sunday’s storm reports were 14 tornadoes, including multiple tornado emergencies in Kentucky.
  • Heat warning: Meanwhile, more than 25 million people are under heat alerts, mainly across east and south Texas and central and southern Louisiana and Mississippi. Over the next two days, the heat index values could top 119 degrees in Laredo, Texas, and 113 degrees in Austin, and Houston.

5 people have now died due to Kentucky storms, governor says

A fifth person has died in Kentucky as a result of severe weather that ripped through the state Sunday night, the governor said.

With a clean-up underway, Beshear warned people to be careful.

“So we’re asking everybody that’s out there all across the country cleaning up today, be careful. You are important. Your family wants you to come home tonight,” the governor said. 

Beshear said that another person has suffered a “very serious injury,” but appears to be a “little bit better.” According to the governor, a tornado believed to be at least an EF-3 devastated some homes in Charleston and Barnsley leaving nothing left.

At least 23 have died across the country due to severe weather this weekend.

This post has been updated with additional comments from the governor.

1 person killed after large tree falls onto residential building in Alabama, authorities say 

One person is dead after a large tree fell onto a residential building in Mountain Brook, Alabama, according to the Mountain Brook Fire Department. 

Central Alabama was under a severe thunderstorm watch through 10 a.m. ET Monday morning, with wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour and large hail. 

Mountain Brook is a suburb of Birmingham. 

This latest death marks the 22nd weather-related fatality in the US since Saturday evening.

Tornado watch issued for Washington, DC, and Baltimore

A tornado watch was issued by the Storm Prediction Center for Washington, DC, parts of North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland, including Baltimore. The watch is in effect for more than 16 million people until 11 p.m. EDT Monday.

A couple of tornadoes are possible along with damaging wind gusts to 70 mph and hail up to the size of ping pong balls.

“Damaging winds are expected to be the most common risk, but some hail is possible and a moist environment and strong atmospheric winds will also support a tornado risk,” the SPC warned Monday afternoon.

Any storms could also produce drenching rainfall.

30 million people in the Northeast under severe thunderstorm watch

A severe thunderstorm watch was issued for parts of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Monday afternoon by the Storm Prediction Center. The watch is in effect for more than 30 million people until 9:00 p.m. EDT Monday.

New York City, Philadelphia and Newark, New Jersey, are just a few of the major metropolitan areas within the watch.

Damaging wind gusts up to 65 mph, hail and tornadoes are the main threats with any storms in the watch area Monday afternoon.

Biden spoke with governors of states impacted by weekend storms, White House says 

President Joe Biden speaks at the National Memorial Day observance at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, on Monday.

President Joe Biden spoke with governors of states impacted by severe storms on Monday, the White House said. 

Biden talked on the phone with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott following “devastating tornadoes across the Southern Plains,” according to the White House.

“He expressed his condolences for the lives lost in each state,” the statement said. “The Federal Emergency Management Agency is on the ground conducting damage assessments with state and local counterparts.” 

Biden “reiterated that he has directed his administration to provide federal support as needed,” the White House said.

Some context: CNN previously reported the sprawling severe storms pounding the eastern half of the United States on Sunday created so much hazardous weather it was the most active severe storm day of the year. 

There were at least 632 preliminary reports of severe weather Sunday spanning from Wyoming to New Hampshire, according to Storm Prediction Center data. The previous high was 565 reports on May 8.

When storms will arrive in the Northeast's big cities

Severe thunderstorms will track through a significant portion of the Northeast’s highly populous I-95 corridor this afternoon and evening with the threat of damaging wind gusts, hail and tornadoes. Some cities may encounter multiple rounds of storms.

Here’s when the greatest threat for damaging storms is expected Monday in several major cities. All times are local.

Washington, DC:

  • Start time: around 2 p.m.
  • End time: around 7 p.m.

Baltimore:

  • Start time: around 2 p.m.
  • End time: around 8 p.m.

Philadephia:

  • Start time: around 3 p.m.
  • End time: around 8 p.m.

New York City:

  • Start time: around 3 p.m.
  • End time: around 9 p.m.

Weekend's outburst of rare tornado emergencies highlight the severity of the event — and the season

Five rare tornado emergencies were issued by the National Weather Service as tornadoes carved a deadly path through the US over the weekend.

Tornado emergencies are the most dire tornado warnings and are only issued when a tornado threatens catastrophic damage and loss of life, often in a populated area. Nearly 70,000 tornado warnings have been issued in the past 25 years, but just more than 300 have risen to the level of a tornado emergency, according to data from the Iowa Environmental Mesonet

There have already been 14 tornado emergencies in the US this year, including the five since Friday, with one in Texas and four in Kentucky.

On average, about a dozen tornado emergencies occur in the US each year, but that number is skewed significantly by the devastating 2011 severe season, which had 60. Only a handful of tornado emergencies happen in many years.

Four of the weekend’s tornado emergencies occurred on Sunday in Kentucky. The emergencies accounted for a fraction of the more than 100 tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service that day.

Sunday marked the sixth day this year with 100 or more tornado warnings, the second-most on record for a single year. Only 2011 had more with nine days.

Here's the latest on the storm's impacts in Kentucky, according to the governor

Severe weather and tornados prompted Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to issue a statewide emergency declaration last night to make sure resources are available in the aftermath.

In addition to the statewide emergency declaration, 14 counties and 5 cities issued emergency declarations of their own, Beshear said.

Beshear said during a news conference that currently, there 174,586 customers without power and “crews working around the clock to make sure power is restored.”

He said that for many Kentuckians, especially in larger cities, power is expected to be restored today. However, in western Kentucky, it could take days until power comes back because there has been “significant damage to the power infrastructure.”

At its peak, the storm knocked out power for 215,144 Kentucky customers, the governor said.

As recovery efforts begin, the National Guard has six teams joining the Division of Forestry in two counties, the governor said.

At least 4 killed in weekend storms in Kentucky, governor says

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at least four people have died across the state due to severe weather this Memorial Day weekend.

“Sadly we can confirm that we have lost at least four Kentuckians from last night’s storm,” Beshear said at a news conference from the Kentucky Emergency Operations Center.

“That means we know that there are at least four families this morning that have suffered the loss of a loved one less than 24 hours ago that are hurting and we ought to rally around them and do everything we can to carry them and the days the weeks and the years to come.”

The governor said a fifth person is “fighting for their life.”

The four fatalities include:

  • A 67-year-old woman in Mercer County
  • A 62-year-old woman in Hardin County
  • A 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County
  • A 34-year-old man in Jefferson County

The update in Kentucky brings the nationwide death toll from the Memorial Day Weekend severe weather to at least 21.

"We had devastating storms that hit almost the entire state," Kentucky governor says

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks during a press conference on Monday.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said that devastating storms impacted almost the entire state last night.

He added they know that one tornado on the ground was “at least 40 miles and a number of other tornadoes that spun down and spun back up, we’re awaiting the National Weather Service to confirm those tornadoes.”

Daylight reveals tornado devastation on the ground in Kentucky

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01:34 - Source: cnn

Video Credit: WxChasing / LSM

New video shows the aftermath of a tornado in southwestern Kentucky. The aerial footage over Charleston, Kentucky, shows cars tossed into the piles of debris that are remains of houses. Only the basement remains in at least one of the structures.

A rare tornado emergency was issued for the area on Sunday evening, warning of a “large and destructive tornado” and urging residents to take action.

“This is a particularly dangerous situation. Take cover now!” the National Weather Service in Paducah, Kentucky, said.

Survey crews from the National Weather Service will visit the area to determine how strong the tornado was.

NOW: Kentucky governor gives update on severe weather impact on state

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear is holding a news conference to address the impact of severe weather and tornadoes that have hit the state.

At least four people died in Kentucky due to severe weather-related events.

Beshear issued a state of emergency early Monday morning as the commonwealth battled severe weather.

The National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky, is sending out at least two storm survey teams Monday to assess damage, the office said.

The storms — and searing heat in some states — continue to disrupt plans and cause power outages through the Memorial Day weekend as millions face severe weather threats.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Family mourns mother and 2 children killed in tornado in Texas

From left to right, Laura, Miranda and Marco Esparza

A woman and two of her children were in their home in Valley View, Texas, when a tornado struck Saturday night, killing all three.

Laura Esparza and her children Marco, 10, and Miranda, 16, died after their trailer was thrown across a street, Esparza’s brother-in-law told CNN Monday. Her husband survived.

“It was a really terrible thing,” Benito Esparza told CNN, speaking in Spanish. His brother, Refugio Esparza, survived the tornado, but suffered a broken leg and pelvis. “He lost three people, his wife and two kids,” Benito Esparza said. “It’s not easy.”

Two of Refugio Esparza’s older children were not at the home at the time of the storm, his brother said.

Benito Esparza spent Monday morning looking through the rubble of his brother’s home for family possessions. It’s a difficult time for the whole family, he told CNN.

“It’s a very big disaster for everyone, as you can see,” said Esparza.

At least 19 people, including seven in Texas, were killed by severe weather over the weekend.

Severe thunderstorm risk increases in Dallas

Parts of north-central Texas, including the Dallas-Fort Worth area, were upgraded to a level 2 of 5 risk of severe thunderstorms Monday morning by the Storm Prediction Center. Previously, a level 1 of 5 risk level was in place for the southern Plains.

Isolated severe thunderstorms are possible in parts of Texas and Oklahoma later Monday afternoon and evening, but confidence has increased storms in the Dallas area could unload dangerous hail and strong winds. 

Hail stones larger than golf balls could pelt portions of Dallas, Fort Worth and Waco, potentially causing property damage or injury. 

A tornado can’t be ruled out in any storm Monday, but the risk is quite low in the Plains, providing a measure of solace after this weekend’s deadly storms. 

Sunday was the most active severe storm day in a freakishly active season