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More than 50m Americans under severe storm threat after at least five people die in southern states – latest updates | Extreme weather

More than 50m Americans under severe storm threat after at least five people die in southern states – latest updates | Extreme weather
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Satellite images by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration captured the supercell thunderstorm that pawned the deadly tornado that ripped through Perryton, Texas, on Thursday evening.

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At least three people were killed by the powerful tornado, with dozens more injured and hundreds of homes destroyed, according to local authorities.

The latest update by the National Weather Service warns of a slight risk of severe thunderstorms across portions of the mid-Atlantic region, central High Plains and from the Arkansas vicinity southeastward into the Florida Panhandle and southwestern Georgia.

Earlier we reported that the Texas power grid operator ERCOT said it expected power use to break records next week, as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners amid record-breaking temperatures.

The US energy regulator said it has also taken measures to push operators of power transmission lines to address vulnerabilities to extreme weather conditions, Reuters has reported.

It comes as the regulator published early findings of an inquiry into the winter storm Elliott in December 2022, which found that cold weather caused unplanned electric generation supply losses exceeding 70,000 megawatts (MW).

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Some local utilities in the south-east of the US were forced to cut off flows to some customers on 24 December last year, the findings showed.

Since 2011, the US has experienced at least seven major extreme weather events which stressed electric grid operations, the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said.

There was a a “robust and growing” body of scientific evidence attributing increasing extreme weather events to climate change, indicating that this trend will persist, FERC staff said.

A restaurant in Hamburg, New York covered in snow caused by the winter storm Elliott on 24 December. The Buffalo suburb and surrounding area was hit hard by wind gusts over 70 mph battering homes and businesses through out the holiday weekend. Photograph: John Normile/Getty Images
Oliver Milman

Oliver Milman

A week after a pall of wildfire smoke turned New York City’s skies into a shade of apocalyptic orange, leaders in the US government and east coast states are wrestling with how to keep residents safe from the significant health risks.

The incomprehension over the worst ever day for toxic wildfire smoke in recent US history, which obliterated safe clean air thresholds and forced people to don masks outdoors, was summed up by Eric Adams, New York’s mayor, who admitted that the city was not primed for the sort of event more usually seen in California.

Experts have warned that cities like New York need the sort of wildfire smoke hazard plans that cities in California and elsewhere have adopted. In California and elsewhere, there are plans offering advisories to wear masks above certain levels of pollution, trigger interventions to help vulnerable people such as the elderly, and issue warnings to the public to stay indoors on smoky days.

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Some have called for more fundamental reforms of bedrock clean air laws that were designed years before it was apparent that global heating is causing more frequent and larger wildfires, sending plumes of smoke dangerous to cardiovascular and respiratory health thousands of miles away. The smoke from wildfires in Canada that shrouded New York, Washington DC and other US cities eventually unfurled as far as Norway.

Read the full story here:

Here are some of the latest images from the newswires showing the devastation to the Texas town of Perryton, after a tornado ripped through the town on Thursday evening killing at least three people and injuring dozens more.

Damaged pickup trucks sit among debris after a tornado passed through a residential area in Perryton, Texas.
Damaged pickup trucks sit among debris after a tornado passed through a residential area in Perryton, Texas. Photograph: David Erickson/AP
A vehicle sits by a destroyed business as cleanup efforts continue Friday, in Perryton, Texas.
A vehicle sits by a destroyed business as cleanup efforts continue Friday, in Perryton, Texas. Photograph: Alex Driggars/AP
A handout photo made available by the Booker Fire Department shows the damages of an overnight tornado in Perryton, Texas.
A handout photo made available by the Booker Fire Department shows the damages of an overnight tornado in Perryton, Texas. Photograph: Booker Fire Department/EPA

Extreme rainfall and heat hit China amid Asian heatwave

Many people in China have also experienced a variety of weather extremes in recent days, with parts of southern and eastern China seeing prolonged periods of torrential rainfall, as the summer rains known as “dragon boat water” got off to a remarkable start.

The city of Yulin in the Guangxi region experienced 35 hours of non-stop rain on 8-9 June, while the nearby city of Beihai was flooded after 614.7mm of rainfall over 24 hours in the same period. This is approximately a third of the city’s average yearly precipitation, and a June record for the Guangxi region. It is in stark contrast to May, when Guangxi experienced its lowest rainfall in 60 years.

Meanwhile, parts of eastern China were hit by severe thunderstorms over the weekend. Gale-force winds and hail caused damage to many areas, with three people killed in the city of Wuhu in the Anhui province when a shipyard crane was toppled.

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Simultaneously, many parts of China have been experiencing high temperatures. Much of northern China has seen temperatures in the high 30s Celsius in recent days, with parts of Xinjiang province rising above 40C over the weekend. Energy companies are appealing to citizens to reduce energy use in some cities, as the increased use of air conditioning placed strain on the electricity grid.

These high temperatures come as part of the ongoing Asian heatwave, which continues to break records across the continent. There have been several all-time highs in Siberia in June, and monthly records for Hong Kong and Vietnam, while Japan declared the period from March to May its warmest on record.

Read the Guardian’s full analysis here:

With temperatures in Texas forecast to hit triple digits over the Juneteenth weekend, the state’s power grid operator said it expected power use to break records next week as homes and businesses crank up their air conditioners.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which operates the grid for more than 26 million customers representing about 90% of the state’s power load, projected power use would rise to highs of 81,019 MW on Tuesday and 82,295 MW on Wednesday.

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Extreme weather is a reminder of the deadly 2021 blackout that left millions of Texans without power, water and heat for days. ERCOT has said it has enough resources to meet next’ week’s power demand, Reuters reported.

Updated at 15.24 EDT

Multiple tornado warnings have been issued in New Jersey on Friday afternoon.

Across the world this month, temperatures have accelerated to record-setting levels, an ominous sign in the climate crisis ahead of a gathering El Niño that could potentially propel 2023 to become the hottest year ever recorded.

Preliminary global average temperatures taken so far in June are nearly 1C (1.8F) above levels previously recorded for the same month, going back to 1979.

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Temperatures

Copernicus, the European Union’s Earth observation arm, said that the first few days of the month even breached a 1.5C increase compared with pre-industrial times. This is probably the first time this has happened since industrialization, the agency said.

The long-term warming conditions caused by the burning of fossil fuels will probably receive a further pulse of heat via El Niño, a naturally recurring phenomenon where sections of the Pacific Ocean heat up, typically causing temperatures to spike across the world.

My colleague Oliver Milman has the full story:

It is the second consecutive day that powerful storms have struck the US and comes at the end of spring – not a typical time of year for tornado activity, but not rare, AP reported.

It cited the Storm Prediction Center in Norman’s meteorologist, Matt Mosier, as saying:

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You expect thunderstorms this time of year. It’s definitely not rare, but tornadoes are not on a lot of people’s minds because they’ve just kind of moved away from the season that they’re typically focused on (tornadoes).

This week has been very warm with moist, unstable conditions that combined with strong wind shear, which is abnormal for this time of year, he added.

Thunderstorms are not uncommon at all, but to get storms that were producing very large, I mean, 2- to 3-inch hail, day after day — that is abnormal.

More thunderstorms are possible in the far northern Texas Panhandle and the Oklahoma Panhandle on Friday afternoon and night, AP has reported.

The greatest chance of strong and severe storms were on the Oklahoma side with golf ball-size hail and 60 mph (97 kph) wind gusts, meteorologist Brett Muscha said.

Updated at 14.32 EDT

People in parts of southern Louisiana and Texas have been urged to limit time outdoors over the long weekend, with the National Weather Service warning that the heat index could reach 110 degrees.

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People should drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors, the agency said. Young children and pets should not be left unattended in vehicles, it added.

People working or partaking in outdoor activities should take extra precautions and watch out for signs of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, according to the advisory.

The heatwave across south central US is likely to continue through the middle part of next week, the National Weather Service said.

The agency said that at least until the early part of next week, a portion of central and southern Texas could face record-breaking high temperatures.

After that, the core of the hottest temperatures could see a gradual shift to the west, it said.

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Nearly 40m people warned over dangerous heat wave in US south

Nearly 40 million people could be affected by a dangerous heatwave over a wide swath of the south central part of the United States, the National Weather Service has warned.

The agency has urged people from Texas to Florida to limit time outdoors over the long Juneteenth weekend, and issued excessive heat warnings and advisories in southern and eastern Texas, Louisiana and along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico through the holiday weekend.

Record-high temperatures are possible over the next few days in Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Louisiana. Temperatures could reach well into the triple digits in these over the weekend, the agency told the Guardian.

If you factor in the humidity, it’s going to feel as hot as 120 degrees in some places.

Here’s a clip showing the devastation to the Texas town of Perryton, after a tornado ripped through the town on Thursday evening killing at least three people and injuring dozens more.

At least five people killed after storms hit Southern states

At least five people were killed after severe storms and tornadoes ripped across a swath of US southern states, leaving hundreds of thousands without power and causing widespread damage.

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Three people were killed after a devastating tornado tore through the north Texas town of Perryton on Thursday evening, injuring dozens others and causing widespread damage.

Two people were killed in the downtown business district and the third died in a mobile home park in the north-east part of town, Ochiltree county sheriff Terry Bouchard said. The victims have been identified as Becky Randall, Cindy Bransgrove, and 11-year-old Matthew Ramirez. One person was missing, Perrytown fire chief Paul Dutcher told NBC.

The town’s fire department took a direct hit from the tornado, and “many of our trucks are pretty badly damaged,” Dutcher told CNN. As many as 200 homes may have been damaged by the tornado, he said.

About 115 patients were treated in Ochiltree general hospital due to Thursday’s tornado in Perryton, according to a Facebook post.

The National Weather Service in Amarillo confirmed that a tornado hit the area shortly after 5pm on Thursday. The town remained without power the day after a huge twister inflicted damage to homes and a mobile home park.

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Another person was killed on Thursday night in Escambia County, Florida, after a tree fell on their home during a tornado, authorities said. In Mississippi, a man died after a tree fell on him during stormy weather on Friday morning.

Debris covers a residential area in Perryton, Texas, after a tornado struck the town.
Debris covers a residential area in Perryton, Texas, after a tornado struck the town. Photograph: David Erickson/AP

Updated at 14.06 EDT

The National Storm Prediction Center has published a map showing the areas under severe thunderstorm watch.

Damaging gusts remain the main threat over New Jersey into Delaware, though an instance or two of large hail cannot be ruled out, it says.

More than 50m Americans under severe storm threat

Hello and welcome to our live blog coverage of the extreme weather impacting the United States and Canada. More than 50 million people across a large swath of the US have been placed under a severe weather threat on Friday, a day after devastating storms in Texas and Florida.

Tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds are possible in the slight risk areas, which include Montgomery and Mobile in Alabama, Little Rock, Arkansas; Jackson, Mississippi; and Tallahassee, Florida.

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At marginal risk of large hail and damaging winds are Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Denver, and Jacksonville, Florida.

Parts of the South, mid-Atlantic and Southern Plains are at level 2 of 5 slight risk of severe storms. A level 1 of 5 risk is also in place from South Dakota to Florida and for parts of the Mid-Atlantic, including twister ravaged Perryton, Texas.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

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Léonie Chao-Fong

Published: 2023-06-16 22:12:15

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