Millions without power as Beryl, tornadoes threaten central US; 8 dead: Live updates (2024)

Thao Nguyen,Christopher Cann,Jorge L. Ortiz,Minnah ArshadUSA TODAY

Millions without power as Beryl, tornadoes threaten central US; 8 dead: Live updates (1)

Millions without power as Beryl, tornadoes threaten central US; 8 dead: Live updates (2)

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Possible tornadoes were forecast for the central U.S. Tuesday evening after scorching temperatures and Hurricane Beryl's winds cut a path through the Southeast, triggering heat advisories and leaving millions without power in Texas.

Beryl, the earliest Category 5 hurricane on record, weakened to a tropical storm after making landfall on the Texas coast early Monday as a Category 1 hurricane − turning streets into rivers, trapping people in their cars, and knocking out power to more than 2 million homes and businesses. The storm has been linked to at least eight deaths in Texas and Louisiana.

Now a tropical depression, Beryl is expected to lose strength as it moves further inland, though it will remain potent enough to drop several inches of rain on multiple states and spin up tornadoes as it heads toward the Northeast, according to the National Hurricane Center. On Tuesday, over 21 million people from Arkansas to Maine were under flood watches, the National Weather Service said.

Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick warned that while Beryl has moved out of the state, dangerous flooding could last for several days.

The deadly storm swept through Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines last week. At least 11 people were killed in Mexico and the Caribbean before Beryl reached Texas.

See outage map: Beryl leaves millions without power, heads toward Mississippi

Developments:

∎Louisiana Gov. Jeff Landry declared a state of emergency Tuesday after Beryl, which arrived as a tropical storm, caused one death and "major damage to homes and businesses, as well as massive power outages,'' his office said.

∎ Texas oil and gas companies that shut down in anticipation of Beryl's arrival started to get their operations going again Tuesday despite damage to some of their facilities and power outages in some areas.

Officials with the city of Houston asked people to "avoid all unnecessary travel" Tuesday to clear the roads for authorities working to remove debris and restore power.

∎More than 2,500 first responders were deployed statewide to assist in the recovery effort, according to Nim Kidd, chief of the Texas Division of Emergency Management. In Harris County, which encompasses Houston, the sheriff's office's high water rescue team continued responding to incidents across the city Tuesday.

∎Patrick said Tuesday that President Joe Biden has granted his request for a federal emergency disaster declaration, which would help cover recovery costs. Biden also told Houston Mayor John Whitmire his administration "will make sure Texans have the resources they need to get through the storm now and to recover moving forward."

Tornadoes sweep through Ohio Valley

Two tornadoes have been confirmed by the National Weather Service office in Paducah, Kentucky, as a weakened Beryl continues to stir up danger along its path.

The National Hurricane Center warned about the possibility of several tornadoes Tuesday night across the Ohio Valley, including parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Tennessee. That became a reality a little over an hour later when the Paducah office confirmed a "large and extremely dangerous tornado'' near Owensville, Indiana, about 25 miles north of Evansville.

About 10 minutes later, the same office reported a second tornado had formed near Poseyville, Indiana, also close to Evansville.

In Mount Vernon, Indiana, crews were assessing damage after a tornado swept through the town Tuesday and displaced more than a dozen families. Black Township Fire Chief Jay Price said no injuries were reported as of Tuesday evening.

The storm overturned train cars, caused several gas leaks, mangled utility poles, and damaged a warehouse. Footage posted to social media from other Indiana towns of Johnson and Poseyville showed the storm's devastating aftermath, with snapped trees and some homes reduced to rubble.

According to Iowa State University research, Beryl set a record by producing 113 tornado warnings Monday.

Dangerous heat to scorch east Texas amid Beryl outages

In the wake of Hurricane Beryl, another form of dangerous weather is bearing down on parts of Texas as more than 2 million homes and businesses are out of power: High heat and humidity.

Weather officials issued a heat advisory from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. Wednesday across much of southeast Texas, from the Gulf Coast through Houston and Montgomery County. Heat index values, also called "feels-like temperatures," could reach 106 degrees in the afternoon, prompting authorities to urge residents to find places with working air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and check in on neighbors, friends, and relatives.

In Houston, where the thermometer reached 95 degrees Tuesday, resident Raymond Miller lost power at 6 a.m. on Monday, making for a rough night.

"It was hot, I had trouble sleeping and the humidity makes it very hard to breath in my apartment,'' said Miller, 46, who works in higher education. "Opening the windows last night didn't do anything, it kind of made it worse."

Miller's plan to seek relief for himself and his dog was for them to sit in his vehicle with the air conditioning running, but with only a quarter tank of gas left, it would be difficult to escape the heat for long.

"There is no gas available. Everyone is out of gas," he said. "Everything is coming to a head at this point."

Extreme heat is the deadliest form of extreme weather. This week, a relentless heat wave scorching the West Coast is suspected to have killed eight people as temperatures soared into the triple digits. More record-breaking heat was expected to bake the West Coast in the coming days, with some areas reaching up to 30 degrees above average, the National Weather Service said.

High temperatures plaguing the West this week will move into north-central and southeast U.S. on Sunday and early next week, according to the weather service.

"The persistent and record-breaking heat is extremely dangerous to those without access to cooling," the weather service warned.

Storm causes wastewater spill of 154,000 gallons in Houston

The combination of Beryl's powerful winds, abundant rain, and the power outages they caused led to a wastewater spill of at least 154,000 gallons in the central part of the city, Houston Public Works reported.

The agency said those who get their water from the city "are safe from the spill and do not need to boil their water.'' However, officials advised residents who rely on private drinking supply wells within the affected area to boil water for at least a minute, including water for cooking and bathing.

Houston endured another spill of more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater in mid-May, when storms bringing fierce winds and heavy rain killed eight people in the area, flooded streets and knocked out power to about 1 million customers.

Beryl's path from Arkansas to Maine

Beryl is projected to drench a vast swath of the central and eastern U.S. as it unleashes thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes from the lower Plains to the Northeast.

The storm is expected to move over Arkansas and enter the lower Ohio Valley by Tuesday evening, threatening the region with possible tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service. The heaviest rainfall will follow Beryl's track through Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois and Indiana through late Tuesday, where up to 8 inches can fall, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bill Deger said.

"Since the storm will be moving fast, this rain can fall in just a matter of hours, leading to reduced visibility for motorists and flash flooding on highways and in poor-drainage areas," he said.

On Wednesday, the storm is forecast to bring its "prolific heavy rain" and tornado threats to the lower Great Lakes and northeast regions, including upstate New York, northern Pennsylvania and parts of southern Maine. Torrential downpours are expected to develop along the mid-Atlantic coast before expanding into New England at midweek, according to AccuWeather.

Lingering moisture across the Northeast, even after Beryl dissipates, will continue to fuel storms from Thursday to Friday and possibly Saturday, AccuWeather said, adding that it's possible parts of the East could receive half a foot of rain.

Summer bake: Record-high temperatures from Portland to Phoenix as heat wave continues. Is end in sight?

Power crews work to restore service after Beryl

State and local officials in Texas warned that it could take several days to restore electricity after Beryl knocked out power to millions of homes and businesses.

Nearly 1.6 million customers were out of power in the Houston area by midafternoon Tuesday, CenterPoint Energy reported, saying about 825,000 had it restored in the previous 24 hours. According to PowerOutage.us, over 2 million Texas homes and businesses had lost power while about 10,000 were out of electricity in Louisiana.

In a statement on X, CenterPoint Energy said it expects to restore power to 1 million customers by Wednesday night. The company, which provides service in Houston and surrounding areas, said nearly 12,000 field resources were assisting in the response.

At its peak, over 2.2 million CenterPoint Energy customers were without power on Monday. By 8 p.m., 285,000 customers had their power back on, the company said in a statement.

“While we tracked the projected path, intensity and timing for Hurricane Beryl closely for many days, this storm proved the unpredictability of hurricanes as it delivered a powerful blow across our service territory and impacted a lot of lives,” said Lynnae Wilson, senior vice president of CenterPoint Energy.

Death toll climbs after Beryl hits east Texas, Louisiana

Multiple people were killed in eastern Texas and one person died in Louisiana in storm-related incidents, according to officials.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote in a social media post on Tuesday night that the state is deploying 25 additional ambulances and a 250-bed medical shelter to support EMS and hospital capacity needs in the Houston area, where four storm-related deaths have been confirmed.

Whitmire said aHouston Police Department civilian employeedrowned when he got caught in flood waters while driving to work. In southeast Houston, a man died in a fire believed to have been started by lighting as Beryl bore down on the city.

A 53-year-old man and a 74-year-old woman were killed in two incidents after trees fell on their homes on Monday, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

A man operating a tractor was killed after a tree fell and struck him, according to Montgomery County Emergency Management. In addition, two people were found dead in a tent in a wooded area of Montgomery County, north of Houston. No further details were available.

In northwest Louisiana, a woman died after a tree fell on her home, according to a statement from the sheriff's office in Bossier Parish.

Hundreds of egrets killed during Beryl, hundreds rescued

Hundreds of egrets were thrown from their nests and drowned as Hurricane Beryl slammed southeast Texas on Monday, the Houston chapter of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said in a statement.

The nonprofit said specialists with its wildlife center in Texas were on the scene in Cypress, a city just northwest of Houston, to rescue the injured and orphaned egrets that survived.

The specialists were expected to bring back around 300 birds to their campus for triage and medical care, the statement said.

Egrets are all-white wading birds that make their home in wetlands across the United States. They're found throughout Texas and the Gulf Coast states year-round, according to the Houston Audubon Society.

Contributing: Doyle Rice, USA TODAY; Ryan Reynolds, Jon Webb, Houston Harwood and Sarah Loesch, Evansville Courier & Press; Reuters

Millions without power as Beryl, tornadoes threaten central US; 8 dead: Live updates (2024)

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