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More than 20 are dead after tornadoes rip through parts of Texas, Kentucky, Arkansas

A tornado spotted near West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Eddyville, Ky., on Sunday.
Nichole Patton
A tornado spotted near West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Eddyville, Ky., on Sunday.

Updated May 27, 2024 at 03:21 AM ET

Powerful tornadoes and thunderstorms ripped through parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky late Saturday evening and Sunday morning, leaving more than 20 people dead and causing widespread damage.

Hundreds of thousands of residents were without power early Monday across a broad swath stretching from Texas to Virginia, according to the website poweroutage.us. Forecasters warned that the dangerous storms would move east across parts of the lower Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast states.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency on X early Monday in his state. At least four people between the ages of 34 to 67 were killed in the storms overnight, Beshear announced Monday afternoon.

On Sunday, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news conference the statewide death toll had increased to eight.

“Bryan and I are praying for the communities impacted by last night’s storm and the families of the Arkansans we lost,” Sanders said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said “at least seven lives” had been lost due to the weekend storms.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said two fatalities had been confirmed in the town of Pryor in Mayes County.

In Louisville, Ky., Mayor Craig Greenberg confirmed one death.

Kentucky starts recovery after damaging storm

Communities across Kentucky experienced storms that produced strong winds, multiple tornadoes and hail, temporarily shutting down roadways and causing massive damage to homes and businesses, Gov. Beshear told reporters during a press briefing early Monday afternoon.

The four confirmed deaths are of a yet-to-be-identified 67-year-old woman in Mercer County, a 62-year-old woman in Hardin County, a 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County and a 34-year-old man in Jefferson County. A fifth person was seriously injured and is still "fighting for their life," Beshear said.

At its peak, the storm knocked out power to 215,144 homes. As of Monday afternoon, more than 150,000 customers were still without power. Residents living in Western Kentucky and Trigg County could be without power for days due to the significant damage to the power infrastructure.

Beshear said there was at least one tornado on the ground for at least 40 miles, as well as a number of other suspected tornadoes that "spun down and spun back up." The National Weather Service has yet to confirm those tornadoes.

Kentucky is no stranger to such severe weather and damage from tornadoes: More than 70 people diedafter vicious tornadoes hit the state in December 2021. Some of the same counties hit in that storm were hit again Sunday night.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Jaclyn Diaz is a reporter on Newshub.