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A severe weather system brought destruction to the southern states and Great Plains over the long holiday weekend, resulting in the deaths of at least 21 people. As the storm moved into the Northeast, more than 30 million people were placed under a severe thunderstorm watch, with warnings of wind gusts up to 65 mph and quarter-sized hail. Major metropolitan areas like New York City, Philadelphia, and Syracuse were included in the watch, which was in effect until 9 p.m. ET.

The devastation caused by the wild weather included fatalities in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky, with weather-related incidents such as falling trees being the cause of death. Kentucky’s Democratic Governor Andy Beshear reported several fatalities in his state, including a 67-year-old woman in Mercer County and other individuals in different areas. While there was significant damage to homes and businesses, a bright spot was the survival of a young girl who had a tree fall on her while riding her bike. Emergency response teams are being dispatched to assess the damage and provide assistance.

In Texas, a rancher and 34 of his cattle were killed in a lightning strike near Rand, Colorado, demonstrating the widespread impact of the severe weather. Images from affected areas showed obliterated homes and vehicles, as well as massive funnel clouds and hailstones. Power outages were reported in several states, with hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses left without electricity. In Arkansas, over 57,000 were without power, while Kentucky had more than 148,000 affected.

As the cold front moved north, extreme heat warnings were issued for southern and central Texas, where temperatures soared above 100 degrees. The National Weather Service warned of heat index values reaching a potentially dangerous 120 degrees in Texas, along with similarly scorching temperatures in Key West, Florida, and surrounding areas. The combination of severe storms and extreme heat created hazardous conditions for residents and ongoing recovery efforts.

Overall, the widespread damage and loss of life caused by the wild weather over the holiday weekend underscored the unpredictable nature of severe storms. With millions of people impacted by the severe thunderstorm watch in the Northeast and ongoing extreme heat warnings in Texas, residents and emergency responders are urged to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions. The aftermath of the severe weather system will require coordinated efforts to assess damage, restore power, and ensure the safety and well-being of affected communities.

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