WASHINGTON (Reuters) — A severe weather front was bringing high winds, lightning, hail, flooding and a few tornadoes to the Southeast and mid-Atlantic on Monday, forecasters said.
The storm ran through the Mississippi and Ohio valleys overnight, causing flooding that will continue to swell Midwestern waterways throughout the week as the one to three inches of heavy rain meets with quickly melting snow, according to accuweather.com.
“The main threat to lives and property from this severe weather outbreak will be from flash flooding and straight-line wind gusts,” AccuWeather’s senior Meteorologist Sosnowski said on the website.
Although there are only a few tornadoes predicted, Sosnowski warned that “these winds can still damage roofs, break windows, down trees and power lines and pose danger to aircraft attempting to land or take off.”
The National Weather Service said “severe storms that produced several tornadoes and well over 100 reports of damaging winds and hail across the Central U.S. on Sunday” were moving east.
That meant “moderate risk of severe thunderstorms” over parts of Tennessee, northern Alabama and Georgia and far western North Carolina, the Service said on its site.
Three tornadoes, accompanied by heavy wind and rain, lashed the St. Louis metropolitan area late Sunday, leaving thousands without power, authorities said Monday.
The National Weather Service said winds reached 70 mph in the city at around midnight.
The storm initially knocked out power to about 43,000 customers and by late morning on Monday 22,000 homes were still without electric service, power officials said. Police closed several streets in the area due to downed utility poles and dangling power lines.
Northern Mississippi was expected to be under a tornado watch until late Monday afternoon. The Delta region of the state along the Mississippi River could get golf ball- size hail, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
Schools in Benton and Montgomery Counties in Tennessee opened a couple of hours late on Monday morning because the storm was expected to hit during the morning commute.
The system is coming as a cold front moves through the state. While it was 70 degrees early on Monday, temperatures are expected to get down to the low 30s at night. Temperatures already have dropped 20 degrees or more in Middle Tennessee.
The Nashville office of the National Weather Service issued tornado and flash flood warnings.
AccuWeather said thunderstorms could reach as far north as New York and southern New England.
(Additional Reporting by Leigh Coleman in Biloxi and Timothy Ghianni in Nashville, and Bruce Olson in St. Louis; Editing by Jerry Norton and Greg McCune)