Hundreds of thousands without power after Texas storms

Nearly 600,000 customers were without electricity in Texas after severe thunderstorms battered the north-east of the US state.

The latest round of storms brought hurricane-force wind gusts of up to 77mph (123km/h) and golf ball-sized hail.

Tuesday’s extreme weather follows several weekend storms that killed at least 24 people across five states, including Texas.

Sweltering heat is also affecting southern Texas, which is still recovering from a storm earlier this month that knocked out electricity to hundreds of thousands of people.

Some north Texans awoke on Tuesday to the sound of tornado sirens, after the National Weather Service (NWS) issued warnings in Dallas and surrounding areas due to the heavy thunderstorms.

There were reports of flooding of residential streets, downed trees and power lines throughout the city.

A disaster declaration was made for Dallas County as officials continue to assess the damage.

At its height, more than 1,070,000 customers were without power on Tuesday morning.

Nearly a third of the power cuts reported on Tuesday were in Dallas County.

Hundreds of flights out of Dallas were also delayed or cancelled as of late Tuesday morning because of the storms.

The Dallas Zoo said on X, formerly Twitter, that it took a “significant hit” and would also close on Tuesday as it assesses the damage.

Officials said it could take several days before power is restored.

"This unfortunately will be a multi-day power outage situation," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told reporters.

He asked residents to check on their neighbours and "be accommodating".

"Because this is going to be unfortunately longer than we've seen here in a while and a lot of the places that are without power are going to include hotels and things of that nature," he said, according to NBC.

Grant Cruise, a spokesperson for Oncor, Texas' largest utility company, said: "In many cases it’s not going to be simple repairs, we’re looking at complete reconstruction for parts of our area."

Fires that officials believe to be weather-related - either sparked by lightning or power surges - destroyed several homes in the Dallas area.

Fire also destroyed a historic church in Royse City, north-east of Dallas.

Hurricane-force winds were also reported in Houston later in the day, where the city's George Bush Intercontinental Airport recorded a 75mph wind gust.

Some counties in northern Texas were expected to remain under a severe thunderstorm watch into Wednesday morning.

The NWS warned of potential flash flooding in northern and central Texas, as well as parts of southern Oklahoma.

Texas suffered a devastating weekend of storms that killed at least seven people in the state and injured more than 100.

Of those killed were three children - a two-year-old and a five-year-old who belonged to the same family, and another nine-year-old.

Officials estimate that more than 200 homes or structures were destroyed and another 120 were damaged. The area with the heaviest damage was Cooke County, where a tornado with winds up to 135mph struck a mobile home park.

Other storm-related deaths over the weekend were reported in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Alabama.

A heatwave has also hit the region.

The NWS said high temperatures were expected to remain above average or near record-high throughout central and southern Florida over the next few days.

Earlier in May a powerful tornado tore through a rural Iowa town and killed four people.

Government forecasters have also described this summer as a possibly "extraordinary" 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, beginning next month.