In most of U.S., Memorial Day weekend weather points to summer

CHICAGO Sun May 29, 2011 12:00pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Much of the United States was expected to bask in warm, humid, summer-like weather on Sunday as the country, raked by deadly storms over the past month, marks the second day of the long Memorial Day weekend with some welcome quiet on the meteorological front.

The exceptions could be counted on one hand. The National Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the area stretching from Chicago to Detroit area until 5 p.m. local time as a strong storm currently in eastern Iowa moves into the area.

Out West, forecasters at Accuweather.com were predicting a day of unseasonably cool weather in desert towns like Las Vegas and Phoenix, with fresh snowfall in the mountains as far south as California, as a cold front hovers over the region.

The storms in the Midwest were generating hail and damaging winds -- but the NWS said the threat of the front spawning tornadoes was low.

That's welcome news in the region, where residents of Joplin, Missouri are still digging out from one of the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history, which struck at dinner time a week ago.

On Saturday, Missouri state officials said they had 142 sets of human remains. The city of Joplin had said the death toll reached 142 but later scaled that back to 139 fatalities. There is a chance remains of one person are in more than one set, state officials said.

The Joplin twister was the latest in a series that have ripped across the country this spring and made 2011 the deadliest year for tornadoes in nearly 60 years.

So far, an estimated 520 people have died as result of tornadoes -- and the official twister season, which runs from April through July, is only half over.

In the average year, 62 Americans are killed by twisters, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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