The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

The student news site of Paul D. Schreiber Senior High School

The Schreiber Times

Severe storms across US on Memorial Day weekend-

Traveling was at its peak across the country this Memorial Day weekend when a series of powerful storms disrupted the plans of millions of Americans.  The storms swept across the central and southern US, killing at least 26 people and causing a wide trail of power outages and destroyed homes. 

The deaths occurred in the states most heavily hit by the storms: Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Kentucky.  The first wave of storms hit overnight on that Saturday, killing at least a dozen.  The second wave of storms followed on Sunday, producing more tornadoes, additional damage, and causing more deaths.  Dangerous weather persisted through Monday.

However, these were not the only states affected.  The severe weather stretched across the Midwest and the East Coast, disrupting travel plans for Americans trying to make it home after a weekend that was expected to break records for Memorial Day travel.  As the storms moved into much of the Eastern United States on Monday, flights at airports from Boston to Atlanta experienced ground delays and stops, including in Chicago, Virginia, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Cleveland.  Flights were most delayed at the busiest airport in the world, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Forecasters warned that the severe weather could shift to the East Coast later on Monday, and urged people to remain vigilant and watch the skies.  Millions also had Memorial Day barbeque plans disrupted when a tornado watch was issued, covering areas from North Carolina to Maryland including Washington DC.  

“It was very scary to receive a tornado warning on Memorial Day when so many people were outside,” said junior Isabel Epstein.  

The storms remained just north of an oppressive, early season heat wave setting records in Texas and Florida.  In meteorology, warm, moist air formed by storms tends to lay at the northern edge of a heat dome, in this case bringing temperatures typically seen in August.  The heat index neared triple digits in southern Texas on Monday, and extreme temperatures were also forecast for San Antonio and Dallas.  On Sunday, Miami set a record high for May of 96°F.  Even on Tuesday, heat, thunderstorms, hail and strong winds were still being forecast for Texas and the Southern plains.  

The extreme weather also had an effect in New York.  Parts of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey experienced severe storm watches on Memorial Day.  A flood advisory was in effect for the NYC metro area until 4 p.m.  By midday Monday, LaGuardia Airport in New York City had reported average ground delays of 100 minutes.  

“Although I wasn’t in town, I got word that the parades were luckily able to go on, and I’m glad that Port Washington was still able to recognize our troops who served our country this Memorial Day,” said junior Evan Eng.  

New York City and Long Island experienced some flooding on Memorial Day, with the tri-state area receiving thunderstorm warnings, although the effects were minimal relative to other regions of the US.  

There were varying responses to this catastrophic event across the country.  Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard to help state forestry workers clear downed trees and dangerous debris in the state.  He activated the state’s price-gouging statute to prevent price increases on necessary supplies, and said he believed that the state would qualify for assistance from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).  

Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders issued a federal disaster declaration that was approved on May 30.  This declaration will “allow the state to access significantly more resources,” said the Governor at a news conference on Friday.

President Biden issued a statement offering his condolences to victims of the emergency, and thanked emergency responders for their hard work during this time.  He also stated that FEMA is on the ground in affected states conducting damage assessments and the president is in contact with governors to see what federal support they might require.  

“I think it’s great that the President issued a statement, but I wonder how much will actually be done for the people affected by the storms,” said junior Max Siskin.  

These storms were not an isolated event, the past month was packed with tornadoes and severe weather in the nation’s midsection.  With new heat records being set every year, and increasingly bad weather as an effect of climate change, the future will rely on increased emergency preparedness and management.