Millions under severe thunderstorm watch in the Northeast following deadly storms in central U.S.

nbc news​​​

By Patrick Smith, Elizabeth Chuck and Dennis Romero

    Wild weather that killed at least 24 people over the long holiday weekend moved Monday afternoon to the Northeast, where more than 30 million people were under a severe thunderstorm watch.

    The National Weather Service said the watch, which stretched across Philadelphia; New Jersey; New York City; Syracuse, New York; and other major metropolitan areas, was expiring late Monday night.

    However, the service warned that severe thunderstorms, including lightning, large hail, strong gusts and possibly a few tornadoes were possible in the Northeast through Tuesday morning.

    Rain was expected from the Gulf Coast to the Eastern Seaboard, federal forecasters said.

    The storm watches capped a torrid weekend across Southern states and the Great Plains. Eight people were reported dead in Arkansas, seven in Texas, two in Oklahoma and at least five in Kentucky. The deaths were caused by weather-related incidents, including falling trees.

    Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at a news conference Monday morning that the dead in his state included a 67-year-old woman in Mercer County, a 62-year-old woman in Hardin County, a 48-year-old woman in Hopkins County and a 34-year-old man in Jefferson County. Another person is “fighting for his life,” Beshear said.

    “We had devastating storms that hit almost the entire state,” Beshear said, calling Sunday a “tragic night.”

    The storms damaged some Kentucky State Police phone lines, he said, adding that 911 calls were routed to other agencies.

    The weather caused massive damage to homes and businesses, but there was a bright spot, Beshear said.

    “We did have a tree fall on a little girl who was riding her bike, and miraculously, she is OK, even though the bike was damaged,” he said. “There’s a bit of a hand of God in that story.”

    The National Weather Service will send at least two teams to survey the damage across Kentucky, which it said would take several days. States of emergency were declared in numerous counties in Kentucky and across parts of Arkansas.

    Images from the tiny farming community of Valley View, Texas, about 55 miles north of Fort Worth, showed that homes and vehicles had been obliterated. Weather watchers posted pictures from Missouri and Kentucky showing huge, ominous funnel clouds, as well as golf ball-size hailstones.

    The severe weather stretched to Colorado, where a rancher and 34 of his cattle were killed in a lightning strike near the town of Rand, 80 miles northwest of Denver, the Jackson County coroner said. Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding cattle from a trailer when the bolt struck open pasture; the rest of the 100 head of cattle were unharmed, police said.

    The PowerOutage.us website, which tracks energy connections, said more than 229,000 homes and businesses were without power at 10 p.m. ET in affected areas, including more than 95,766 in Kentucky. Arkansas had more than 44,000 utility customers in the dark, the site said.

    While a cold front makes its way north, extreme heat warnings are in effect for southern and central Texas, where temperatures could rise to more than 100 degrees Monday, possibly breaking daily records.

    The National Weather Service said in a forecast that the heat index — a measure of how hot it feels — could reach a potentially dangerous 120 degrees in Texas. Similarly hot weather is forecast for Key West, Florida, and surrounding areas.

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