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Severe storms, reported tornadoes impact far western Ky. over holiday weekend

Contributed by Nichole Patton
A tornado spotted near West Kentucky Correctional Complex in Eddyville on Sunday, May 26, 2024.

This story has been updated.

Severe thunderstorms, damaging winds and reports of multiple tornadoes again plagued far western Kentucky on Sunday.

Violent storms swept across the region throughout Memorial Day weekend, generating violent winds and tornadoes in Missouri and Illinois that carried over into far western Kentucky.

Reports of damage included downed trees and power lines, hail as big as baseballs in some places and damage to structures in the storm’s path. At the storm’s peak, tens of thousands were without power in western Kentucky.

Radar-indicated tornadoes were reported in several counties in the region, including in Caldwell, Graves, Hopkins, Lyon, Marshall and McCracken.

Kentucky Emergency Management reported late Sunday night that 20 homes were damaged in the community of Charleston. The Hopkins County community is immediately north of Dawson Springs, a small town that was decimated during the December 2021 tornado outbreak.

Some weather forecasters said that debris from the tornado that tracked near Dawson Springs was lofted as high as 40,000 feet in the air by the storm.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced late Sunday evening on social media that he had activated a state of emergency “to ensure the communities impacted have the resources they need to respond.”

Beshear is expected to give an update on storm damage across the state during a press conference Monday morning.

At least three deaths have been connected to the storms across Kentucky so far, one in Mercer County, one in Louisville and one in Hopkins County. Rescue operations began Sunday evening.

Officials with the Paducah office of the National Weather Service have said they expect damage surveys to begin Monday morning along two identified paths, one traveled by a reported long-track tornado that impacted locations more than 70 miles apart – ranging from near Calvert City in Marshall County to Greenville in Muhlenberg County – and another in southern Illinois, from Goreville to the Lake of Egypt area.

A native of western Kentucky, Operle earned his bachelor's degree in integrated strategic communications from the University of Kentucky in 2014. Operle spent five years working for Paxton Media/The Paducah Sun as a reporter and editor. In addition to his work in the news industry, Operle is a passionate movie lover and concertgoer.
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