OAN’s Brooke Mallory
6:33 PM – Sunday, June 18, 2023
Five people were killed and more than 640,000 customers were without power across the South on Sunday afternoon as storms and catastrophic weather continued to whip across the region, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.us.
PowerOutage.us noted that Oklahoma was the state impacted the worst by power outages, with over 290,800 consumers without power.
According to the tracker, more than 110,000 people in Louisiana and Texas were without power, while more than 62,000 in Arkansas and more than 53,000 in Mississippi were without electricity.
The National Wildfire Coordinating Group mentioned that severe thunderstorms and heavy rainfall were expected in parts of the region early Sunday, along with excessive heat warnings and critical fire weather risk, defined as low relative humidity, strong surface wind, unstable air, and drought.
The Houston Weather Service advised residents to take precautions since the heat index was above 113 degrees.
Governor Greg Abbott (R-Texas) went to Perryton, Texas, where officials claimed more than 1,000 people were without power after a tornado killed three people this week. The Perryton Ochiltree Chamber of Commerce announced plans to build a cooling facility in the 8,000-person hamlet, approximately 115 miles northeast of Amarillo, to combat the impacts of the storm’s high temperatures.
“At times of events like these, Texans come together,” Abbott told reporters as he signed a disaster declaration that would “trigger all the resources the state can bring to bear… to accelerate the ability to rebuild.”
Abbott also mentioned that he was astounded by how much of the town had been devastated, and he hailed the “nonstop heroic efforts of health care providers,” who, he claimed, treated 160 injured individuals at the local hospital.
The weather service office in Jackson issued severe thunderstorm warnings for many counties in Mississippi, warning of hail, high winds, and tornadoes.
According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, one person was killed in Madison County, roughly 30 miles north of Jackson, when severe weather destroyed at least 69 homes on Friday.
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum warned early Sunday afternoon that clearing key streets that had become inaccessible due to fallen trees might take hours, according to NBC station KJRH in Tulsa.
The National Weather Service in New Orleans issued a warning of “gusty winds and deadly lightning” from building thunderstorms in Jackson County, Mississippi, roughly 110 miles to the east.
The city of New Orleans opened cooling centers and hydration stations and advised local residents to wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing and to also take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments while drinking plenty of water if they were spending time outside.
Electricity shut-offs for overdue accounts have been deferred by Entergy New Orleans and the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans until Tuesday.
According to the meteorological service headquarters in Little Rock, strong winds and hail were also forecast over numerous counties in Arkansas.
Escambia County Public Information Officer Andie Gibson reported that a person was confirmed dead on Thursday after being trapped beneath a tree at home during a storm.
A waterspout hit ashore Friday afternoon in Clearwater, nearly 500 miles southeast of Escambia County, “sending beach-related items flying into the air” and injuring two tourists from Kansas, according to municipal authorities in an email.
A 70-year-old woman and a 63-year-old man were treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries, according to authorities. Their identities have been kept private.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that waterspouts form over water frequently during violent thunderstorms or tornadoes and dissipate quickly when they strike ashore.
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