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Big storms roll across Gulf Coast as East bakes with record heat

States along the Gulf Coast were under severe weather threats Monday as a storm system that spun up ferocious tornadoes across the central U.S. over the weekend – killing at least four people and inflicting widespread damage – moved over the region.

Elsewhere on Monday, record heat was possible along the East Coast, forecasters said, as high temperatures soared into the upper 80s and mid-90s in the mid-Atlantic, with one spot reaching a scorching 96 degrees.

Powerful thunderstorms rolled across southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana through the morning and into the afternoon, raising the threat of damaging wind gusts, large hail and flash floods with up to 2 to 3 inches of rain falling every hour in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The worst of the heavy rain and thunderstorms was forecast to be offshore by the evening.

In Houston, commuters were forced to navigate floodwaters that overtook roads, according to the state transportation department.

Several school districts in Texas and Louisiana canceled classes or delayed the first bell by at least an hour on Monday, citing extreme forecasts. In Shreveport, the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum was closed because of severe weather, officials said.

As of late Monday, more than 48,000 homes and businesses were without power in Texas and Louisiana as the storms passed over the region, according to a USA TODAY database. Thousands in Oklahoma also had no power after a series of storms ripped through the central U.S. over the weekend.

Flooding around Houston

The National Weather Service in Houston warned on X, formerly Twitter, that roads were closed after floodwaters swept through the region Monday morning.

"As you head out this morning, be aware there are several roadways closed or almost impassable due to flooding," the weather service said.

Authorities in the eastern corner of the Lone Star state posted a photo to social media Monday morning showing floodwaters in the town of Lufkin had overtaken a pickup that appeared to be abandoned in between lanes of a highway.

About 35 miles east of Houston, in the coastal town of Cove, waters flooded highways, disrupting northbound and southbound travel, transportation officials said.

Other areas surrounding Houston reported a high risk of roadway flooding Monday, and authorities urged motorists to avoid unnecessary travel.

Record heat in the East

While much of the central and southern U.S. continued to deal with severe weather Monday, potentially record-breaking heat was forecast to overspread much of the East, forecasters said.

"Temperatures will be well above average across much of the East Coast this week with today (Monday) being the warmest of the bunch," the National Weather Service said. "There's a chance for several stations in the mid-Atlantic to tie or break high temperature records today and tomorrow with highs in the 80s to low 90s."

Temperatures rocketed up throughout the mid-Atlantic on Monday. Baltimore (Inner Harbor) hit a scorching 96 degrees, while Washington (Dulles Airport) reached 90. Elsewhere, Philadelphia saw an 87-degree reading, and New York City's Central Park also topped out at 87, the National Weather Service said. Final highs for the day were still being tabulated as of late afternoon.

Monday will easily be the warmest day of the year in the mid-Atlantic. In fact, if forecasts hold, Monday will be the warmest day since early September in Washington, Baltimore and Philadelphia, AccuWeather senior meteorologist Matt Benz said.

Recovery efforts underway after deadly storms ravage communities

Recovery began on Monday in cities and communities across the central U.S. after a few days of record tornado warnings in a region where a slow-moving storm system unleashed dozens of tornadoes that flattened entire streets, tossed cars and were responsible for the deaths of at least four people, including a 4-month-old baby, in Oklahoma.

The National Weather Service issued scores of tornado warnings Friday and Saturday. The weather service offices in Omaha, Nebraska, and Norman, Oklahoma, set their respective records for the most number of tornado warnings in a day: 42 and 59, respectively, according to NBC News meteorologist Kathryn Prociv. More than 100 people were injured in the storms, Oklahoma's Office of Emergency Management reported Sunday afternoon. The city of Sulphur, about 80 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, has had "definitely the most damage since I've been governor," Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said at a news conference.

"I've seen a lot of damage. I've been around the state,” Stitt said. “This is my sixth year. But what I saw in downtown Sulphur is unbelievable."

Stitt declared a state of emergency to free up money for recovery, and federal authorities, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, were coordinating with state officials. Other states lashed by the storms include Nebraska and Iowa, where businesses and homes were destroyed.

Tornado damage is seen in Sulphur, Okla., on Sunday, April 28, 2024, after severe storms hit the area the night before.

4 people killed in Oklahoma tornadoes; over 100 injured

At least four people across Oklahoma were killed in tornadoes that ravaged rural communities and small towns throughout the state Saturday.

The Oklahoma medical examiner has confirmed three storm-related fatalities: two in Holdenville, about 80 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, and one in Marietta, a small city near the Texas border. Hughes County authorities confirmed one of the victims was a 4-month-old child; the other was an adult male.

Stitt announced a fourth fatality in Sulphur, a city of about 5,000 people, where a powerful tornado tore through the downtown strip. 

"We'll do whatever we can to help put the pieces back together," Stitt said. "Thank goodness it was a downtown, that there wasn't a lot of people here at 10:30 at night. You just can't believe the destruction."

Storms may bring more tornadoes, floods across central US

A low-pressure system is expected to bring showers and thunderstorms across the Great Plains and Mississippi Valley on Tuesday, according to the weather service.

Very large hail, strong wind gusts and a few tornadoes are the primary threats, which may be felt in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, South Dakota and Minnesota.

Downstream of the storm system, isolated showers and thunderstorms are forecast to move through the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and into the East Coast on Tuesday, and there will be a marginal risk for severe weather.

Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz, Minnah Arshad, and John Bacon, USA TODAY; Josh Dulaney and Jack Money, The Oklahoman

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