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In case you missed it: Massive tornadoes pulverize central US; record-breaking heat wave scorches Southeast

By Mark Puleo, AccuWeather staff writer
June 01, 2019, 5:21:51 AM EDT

Capping a month marked by severe weather, May's final week featured the fall of numerous tornado-related records and even more cities and counties left devastated in the wake of those destructive twisters.

Of the 516 tornadoes reported in May, one of the most powerful was Tuesday’s EF4 twister that hit Linwood, Kansas. Top wind speeds reached 170 miles per hour and left behind dozens of damaged buildings. At least 18 citizens were injured but no fatalities were reported.

Debris from another storm in Lawrence, Kansas, delayed flights at Kansas City International Airport and left thousands without power.

Kansas tornado obliterates greenhouse

Kansas wasn't the only state in the central U.S. to see intense tornadoes this week. In Dayton, Ohio, a massive tornado ripped through on Monday night and left the city upside down when residents woke up on Tuesday morning. With winds reaching 140 miles per hour and trees scattered throughout the area, more than 60,000 residents were left without running water and at least 80,000 were without electricity at one point.

Following an initial rating of EF3, the Dayton tornado was upgraded to EF4 status on Thursday.

Jeffrey Pane, Dayton's fire chief, shared at a press conference on Tuesday that there were no reported deaths from the storm.

"I find that pretty miraculous," he said. "And I attribute much of that to the early notification to the public, and then the public heeding those warnings and getting to shelter."

However, 90 minutes farther north in Mercer County, an 81-year-old man, Melvin Dale Hannah, was killed when a car crashed through his home during a storm. Mercer County EMA Director Mike Robbins shared that 12 residents were injured and urged non-residents to not enter the area while crews were cleaning up.

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Farther south, tornadoes were reported in Texas and Oklahoma, including a destructive twister in El Reno, Oklahoma, that claimed at least two lives. While the National Weather Service (NWS) determined that the tornado was on the ground for just four minutes, nearly 30 individuals were treated for injuries.

The tornado struck nearly six years to the day that a similarly powerful twister tore through on May 31, 2013. That storm killed eight people and injured 151 others.

"We could have absolutely seen a lot more destruction and death, we feel blessed," El Reno Mayor Matt White told reporters. "I've been strong to this point, but I'm getting ready to break. We can't have any more rain. I think the measurements showed that we had a little under 18 inches of rain in the last 31 days in El Reno, Oklahoma. We just need a little break."

el reno tornado graphic

On the other side of the eastern hemisphere, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake left areas of Peru in ruins. The quake struck far away from heavily populated areas and caused just one confirmed fatality.

The National Emergency Operations Center of Peru confirmed damage to numerous buildings, such as schools and health centers, along with the injuries to at least 11 people.

Cleanup efforts were hampered by stormy weather, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Rob Miller.

Peru Earthquake AP

Snowfall in Australia was accompanied by a rush of cold air, bringing 20-40 cm (7-15 inches) of snow to parts of the Victorian Alps. While the snow was welcomed by eager skiers and snowboarders, it spelled trouble for drivers.

ABC News reported that eight people had to be rescued from their vehicles after they got stuck in the snow.

Areas of California also experienced lower-than-normal temperatures this week, as many locations didn't see the thermometer top 60 degrees Fahrenheit during Memorial Day weekend. The thermometer peaked at 61 degrees on Sunday in Sacramento, a new record-low high temperature for the city.

Downtown Los Angeles also reached a record-low high temperature of 62 degrees on Sunday .

The southeast region of the U.S. experienced the opposite end of the spectrum, as six cities had record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures on Tuesday.

Tuesday record highs

For Charleston, South Carolina, and Wilmington, North Carolina, it was the first time in history the cities reached 100 degrees in May.

Many cities also set all-time record highs for the month.

All-time record heat May 2019

Meanwhile, not everything was fire and brimstone this week. A beach goer in Avalon, New Jersey, looked up and saw a puzzling but beautiful sight in the afternoon sky, and managed to snap a photo before it disappeared. "No one had seen anything like it before," the man told AccuWeather, saying the friends and family with him on the beach were just as bewildered. He added that social media users eventually helped him understand what he'd just seen.

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