Memorial Day weekend: Historical record at airports and storm and tornado warnings

Authorities advise passengers to arrive early to the airport and keep an eye on the weather forecast.

Memorial Day weekend has kicked off the summer, which looks promising for national aviation. However, it also comes with weather warnings for passengers. The next several days will consist of rain, strong winds and tornadoes in several parts of the country. Before traveling, travelers should check the forecast for their destination (many will have to repack their bags: An umbrella and a raincoat might come in handy).

Full airports

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers processed 2,951,163 passengers on Friday, the highest daily number in history. This record, which exceeds the previous one by 42,378 passengers, was preceded by an unusually high Thursday: 2,897,417 people went through airport security. It was the third day with the highest influx of travelers, according to the agency.

"Holiday travel periods are always somewhat hectic, but our officers remain focused on their mission and they continue to do so in an efficient and courteous manner," said Robin Burke, TSA Federal Security Director for Richmond International Airport, which surpassed its single-day passenger record on Thursday.

"The most important things that travelers can do is to get to the airport early and come prepared to go through the checkpoint screening process," Burke said, emphasizing the two main points of the TSA message to the public in preparation for these busy days: arrive at the airport at least two hours before takeoff and make sure to have all the necessary documentation and do not carry prohibited items. You can review this information on their website or social media accounts.

Airlines for America (A4A), an organization that represents airlines such as United and American Airlines, expects that 271 million passengers will board American planes between June and August, which is 6.3% more than last year's record.

"U.S. airlines are excited to fly a record number of travelers this summer," said A4A's Rebecca Spicer in a statement announcing that there will be 26,000 flights scheduled per day.

Days of rain and tornadoes

The good takeoff forecast was accompanied by another one that isn't so promising: "Multiple rounds of storms with the threat for large hail, damaging wind gusts, and a few tornadoes are possible from parts of east-central Missouri into central/southern Illinois and Indiana, much of Kentucky and adjacent portions of northern Tennessee."

This was reported by the National Weather Service (NWS) in its report on Sunday. It also warned that passengers may experience turbulence when flying.

Specifically, the weather service issued warnings for possible tornadoes in northern Arkansas, southern Illinois, eastern Kentucky, south-central and southeastern Missouri and northwest Tennessee. People in those areas should be "on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings."

There were reports of tornadoes in different parts of the country earlier this weekend. In Valley View, Texas, a tornado left several dead and injured Sunday. In Rogers, Arkansas, a tornado left power lines down and damaged roads and buildings. At least seven deaths were reported in Texas, two in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas.