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Severe weather continues to threaten millions across the Southern US

Millions are under heat alerts without electricity, or will see severe thunderstorms this week.
Severe weather continues to threaten millions across the southern US
Posted at 3:15 PM, Jun 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-20 09:28:37-04

Powerful storms are pushing through the Southeast and sweltering heat is blanketing southern Texas and the rest of the Gulf Coast, as severe weather continues to threaten millions of Americans.

The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center had reports of at least eight tornadoes Sunday, mostly in central Mississippi.

An overnight storm in Jasper County, Mississippi, killed at least one person and injured about two dozen more.  

Search and rescue crews are using drones in areas that are inaccessible because of downed power lines.

Officials say at one point more than 49,000 people were without power in the central part of the state.

They join nearly half a million people from Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee who still don't have power after deadly storms last week. 

As for Oklahoma, multiple areas won't have power for days. The Public Service Company of Oklahoma estimated rural Tulsa wouldn't have power until Wednesday night, and metro Tulsa could be without electricity until Saturday night.

SEE MORE: Sweltering heat wave triggers power outages, storms in Southern US

Many of the states without electricity are coping with a sweltering heat wave without air conditioning, prompting cities across the region to open cooling centers and hydration stations. 

There are heat alerts for 35 million people in Texas, southern New Mexico, Mississippi and Louisiana. Triple-digit temperatures are in the forecast through mid-week.

Meanwhile, thunderstorms are moving east, bringing the threat of wind gusts, large hail and isolated tornadoes to parts of the Gulf Coast and Southeast. 

Unpredictable weather in Clearwater Beach, Florida, sent a waterspout ashore, quickly sending cabanas and other debris flying into crowds of beachgoers. Two people went to the hospital with minor injuries.

There was also a dramatic rescue in Escambia County, Florida. During a torrential downpour, a deputy rushed to the aid of a person who went under rapidly rising water. Both got sucked into a drainage pipe and were swept under a four-lane road. They surfaced about 30 seconds later, 100 feet away and lucky to be alive.

In New Orleans, high temperatures and excessive heat warnings continued into the evening. Tuesday will see upper 80s, but there are warnings of potentially severe thunderstorms.

Plus, the National Hurricane Center says Tropical Depression 3 will strengthen into a hurricane this week. The storm formed over the tropical Atlantic Ocean Monday and started moving west at 21 miles per hour. If its winds develop to at least 39 miles per hour, it will become Tropical Storm Bret while continuing to move west, approaching the Lesser Antilles later this week.

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