Daily Briefing: Storms, fire and sharks

An onslaught of powerful storms is threatening the holiday weekend. Overnight Israeli strikes targeted Rafah's designated area for displaced Palestinians, killing and wounding dozens. A Carnival Cruise ship coordinated with the Coast Guard to rescue 25 stranded people.

🙋🏼‍♀️ I'm Nicole Fallert, Daily Briefing author. It's Memorial Day. Take a minute of silence to remember fallen soldiers.

Memorial Day stained by extremes across the nation

Severe weather and heavy rain are expected to progress into the mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Gulf Coast on Memorial Day.

The extreme weather comes after powerful storms and tornadoes swept across the nation's midsection Sunday killing at least 15 people in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kentucky, injuring scores and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the region.

  • Seven deaths were confirmed in North Texas after an apparent tornado tore through Cooke County, near the Oklahoma border, on Saturday night, officials said. Two children, aged 2 and 5 years old, were among the dead.

  • Wildfires could occur in the Southwest and High Plains over the Memorial Day weekend. Dangerous and potentially record-breaking heat is forecast to continue across parts of Texas, the western Gulf Coast and southern Florida.

  • And then there's sharks. If you're headed to the beach on Monday, watch out for stinky seaweed, dangerous rip currents, bone-chillingly cold water — and yes, hungry sharks.

Chris Mayfield talks about damage in his front yard following a tornado on May 23, 2024 in Temple, Texas.
Chris Mayfield talks about damage in his front yard following a tornado on May 23, 2024 in Temple, Texas.

Israel strikes at displaced area in Gaza's Rafah

At least 20 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded after a number of Israeli air strikes hit a camp for the displaced in Gaza's Rafah, setting their tents on fire, a civil emergency official told Reuters. A final death toll at Tal Al-Sultan camp is still being determined, another medic said, adding that dozens were injured by the fire that ensued after the strikes, which residents are still trying to put out. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Read more

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What's the weather today? Check your local forecast here.

Who gets a portion of $7.7 billion in student loan relief?

Student loan borrowers should keep eyes on their accounts in the coming months as the Biden administration pushes forward with student loan relief initiatives. Following the Supreme Court's block on Biden's initial forgiveness program in 2023, the administration has continued to implement a series of programs to assist some of the 43.2 million borrowers struggling under America's $1.6 trillion in federal student loan debt. Earlier this month, the administration also announced an additional $7.7 billion in forgiveness for undergraduate loan holders. This round of student loan relief will cover debts in three categories of borrowers.

Vital bird flu tests aren't reaching farmworkers

Farmworkers face some of the most intense exposures to the bird flu virus, but advocates say many of them would lack resources to fall back on if they became ill. So far, only two people in the United States have tested positive, after being exposed to a wave of bird flu spreading among cows. Those people were dairy farm workers in Texas and Michigan. Scientists warn the virus could mutate to spread from person to person like the seasonal flu, which could spark a pandemic. It's vital to keep tabs on farmworkers, experts say, but testing usually only happens once someone is symptomatic. Read more

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Carnival cruise ship rescues 25 people

A Carnival Cruise Line ship responded to a call from the U.S. Coast Guard and rescued 25 people stranded in a small boat off the coast of Mexico, the company announced Saturday. The 2,984-passenger Carnival Radiance had left Long Beach, California, on Friday and was heading toward Ensenada Mexico for a three-day sailing when the cruise ship's officers were informed by the Coast Guard "about a distress call involving a small vessel." The ship immediately routed toward the location of the vessel and rescued all 25 people on board, including three children. Read more

The Carnival Radiance team rescued 25 people on a stranded boat on Saturday.
The Carnival Radiance team rescued 25 people on a stranded boat on Saturday.

Photo of the day: Josef Newgarden wins Indy 500

The reigning Indy 500 champion is now a back-to-back champion. Josef Newgarden on Sunday became the sixth driver to win consecutive Indianapolis 500s.

Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note? Shoot her an email at NFallert@usatoday.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Memorial Day, weather, Israel-Hamas war, Gaza, student loan relief, bird flu, Indy 500: Daily Briefing