As many as two people were killed, more than one million homes and businesses were left without power and hundreds of flights were cancelled or delayed as a severe thunderstorm, accompanied by rain, hail and lightning, struck the eastern US.
The thunderstorm coupled with gusty winds knocked down electricity poles and downed trees. The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch for the greater DC area till 9 pm (local time) on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.
“There is a significant threat for damaging and locally destructive hurricane-force winds, along with the potential for large hail and tornadoes, even strong tornadoes,” a special Weather Service statement warned.
The storm moved through several areas in the East Coast with 10 states from Tennessee to New York placed under tornado watches and warnings. According to the National Weather Service, 29.5 million people were under a tornado watch on Monday afternoon.
A 15-year-old boy was killed after a tree fell on him in Anderson, South Carolina, while visiting his grandparent’s house during the storm, according to the Anderson County Office.
In a second storm-related incident, a 28-year-old man died after he was struck by lightning in Florence, Alabama, WAAY-TV reported.
By Monday night, more than 2,600 US flights had been cancelled and nearly 7,900 delayed, according to flight tracking service FlightAware. Many cancellations were at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Associated Press reported.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, some planes bound for the East Coast were being diverted to other places.
EMPLOYEES ASKED TO LEAVE EARLY
All non-emergency employees have been advised to leave workplaces before 3 pm (local time), when all federal offices close, said the Office of Personnel Management.
“This does look to be one of the most impactful severe weather events across the Mid-Atlantic that we have had in some time,” National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Strong said in a Facebook live briefing.
“Have yourself in a strong shelter. Be at home or be at work,” he said in a message to the people.
According to poweroutage.us, more than 1.1 million customers were without power across Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia — all states along the storm system’s path.
The power outage is “extensive and widespread” and could take several days to complete the repair, according to the Knoxville Utilities Board.