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This Week in Review: Lethal Storms Flood Eastern, Central US; Heat Scorches West

By Michael Kuhne, AccuWeather.Com Staff Writer
May 4, 2014; 2:02 AM ET

This week's deadly outbreak of severe weather spawned a series of lethal tornadoes, torrential downpours, life-threatening floods, wind gusts up to 80 mph and landslides, leaving a path of destruction in their wake.

While portions of the Eastern and Central United States were experiencing record-breaking rainfall, and severe thunderstorms, the drought stricken West was scorched with record-high temperatures as the risk for raging wildfire ignited with the onset of high winds.

"The main setup for the severe weather included a large, slow-moving upper-level low pressure system, which strengthened to the east of the Rockies," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards said. "This system tapped into warm, moist Gulf of Mexico air and lead to the multi-day severe weather outbreak."

Tornadoes:

In the early morning hours of April 27, powerful thunderstorms began to take shape across Midwest and South, sparking a deadly outbreak of severe weather what would span five days and sweep across 20 states.

Lethal thunderstorms ignited across the skies of Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Iowa on Sunday, spawning the series of deadly twisters that would claim 17 lives.

An EF3 rated tornado roared through Mayflower, Arkansas, leaving a wake of destruction in its 30-mile path. By Monday, another slow moving storm system rumbled across Mississippi and Alabama spawning lethal tornadoes across the region. An EF4 was reported in Jackson, Mississippi.

By Tuesday, as the storm system moved toward the East Coast, slamming Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas, the death toll would climb to 35 by days end after a series of twisters barreled through the South cutting power to hundreds of thousands.

A demolished car sits on North Gloster Street across from what remains of a shell gas station in Tupelo, Miss., after a tornado touched down on Monday, April 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)

Flooding and Landslides:

As the storms pushed further eastward to the coastline, the threat for tornado formation faded, but life-threatening floods and record rainfall inundated areas from Florida up to New York Wednesday and Thursday. Flash flooding was reported in various communities on the East Coast including Philadelphia, New York City and Pensacola, Florida.

Apartments in Valley Forge, Pa., are immersed in flood waters after a storm system brought heavy rainfall to the Philadelphia area on Thursday, May 1, 2014. (Photo/Lauren-Kae Whetzel)

In two days, Pensacola, Florida, received more than 20 inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday. The city shattered its daily maximum rainfall record set in 1918 at 3.33 inches by collecting 4.92 inches Wednesday.

Following heavy rainfall in Pensacola, Fla., a road collapses at 20th Street and Lloyd Street on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Twitter Photo/@Goodcleanliving)

The record-breaking downpour caused life-threatening floods in the area.

Cars sit on the edge of a landslide in the Charles Village neighborhood of Baltimore, Wednesday, April 30, 2014, as heavy rain moves through the region. (AP Photo)

With more than 4.5 inches of rain falling from early morning, cars were drawn downhill by the earth as a block-long landslide pulled in a roadway near a residential neighborhood in Baltimore Wednesday afternoon. In addition, a mudslide was reported near Yonkers, New York, and halted morning commute traffic. Another mudslide caused the evacuation of Long Island residents from their Sea Cliff homes.

Heat Ignites Fire Risk Across Drought Stricken West:

As the severe weather threat started to receded in the East, the risk for wildfires sparked across the West as temperatures soared to record daily highs Thursday.

RELATED:
PHOTOS: Deadly Severe Storm Outbreak Spans Five Days, 20 States
From Fierce Tornadoes to Mudslides: What Are the Numbers Behind the Storm?
REPORTS: Flooding Continues in Northeast US

Seattle, Washington set a record of 85 degrees, smashing the record of 81 degrees set in 1976 and 1998.

In portions of Southern California, gusty winds, known as Santa Anas, raised the fire danger. By Thursday evening in Chula Vista, California, a record high of 100 degrees Fahrenheit shattered a record set in 2011 by 16 degrees. San Diego and Santa Ana also topped their 2011 records with a high of 95 F in San Diego and 96 F in Santa Ana.

"The combination of very low humidity, heat, sunshine and wind can cause any fire that gets started to spread rapidly through dry brush and potentially into populated areas," AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said Wednesday.

"A fire has broken out in Day Canyon, in the San Bernardino National Forest just north of Rancho Cucamonga, California, Wednesday midday and was spreading rapidly," Clark said. By Friday evening, the wildfire had consumed more than 2,190 acres.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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