States across the Southern United States are baking under an intense heat wave that knocked out power, triggered severe thunderstorms and raised wildfire threats in some areas.
Sweltering temperatures in the triple digits prompted heat advisories across Louisiana and Texas, with officials urging residents to take extra precautions when outdoors and to check on their elderly neighbors and pets. Reports indicated that the intense heat had knocked out power for more than half a million people from Oklahoma east through Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has already declared a state of emergency for the northern and central parts of his state, where severe weather caused widespread power outages over the weekend.
The National Weather Service said a suspected tornado also struck near Scranton, Arkansas Sunday morning, about 100 miles northwest of Little Rock. While there was damage to some trees and structures, no injuries have been reported.
Forecasters expect the potentially record-breaking temperatures to continue over the next few days along much of southern Texas and the Gulf Coast. Meteorologists said the heat wave could produce more powerful storms with damaging winds, hail and the potential for tornadoes throughout the region.
In the Southwest, fire crews are battling several wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona, where high temperatures and gusty winds increased the risk of more fires in the coming days. A brush fire that broke out Friday near Tucson, Arizona, prompted officials to shut down a major highway. However, Arizona 83 reopened for travel Sunday and authorities said no homes were in danger.
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