Nearly 400,000 homes and businesses were without power early Tuesday after severe thunderstorms battered a large swath of the Eastern US a day earlier and left at least two people dead, damaged neighborhoods and stranded dozens of people on a Maryland road for hours.
In Westminster, Maryland, dozens of people were trapped in cars for up to five and a half hours Monday after severe weather toppled power lines onto the vehicles on Route 140, state police said.
Drivers waited for hours while crews worked to de-energize the power lines to get them out. Thirty-three adults and 14 children eventually were rescued, and no injuries were reported, police said.
Jeffrey Campbell was on his way home from work when an utility pole came down on vehicles in front of him, trapping him for hours with live wires on the ground on either side of his truck, he said. The wire to his right took out his exterior mirror, he said.
“It’s just poles coming down one after the other,” he said.
Monday’s storms killed at least two people, authorities said, including a 28-year-old man who was struck by lightning in a parking lot in Florence, Alabama, police said. Authorities have not identified him.
In South Carolina, Evan Christopher Kinley, 15, was killed when a falling tree struck him outside his grandparents’ home in Anderson County as strong wind and rain hit the area, the county coroner’s office said.
Although that round of severe weather tapered off after battering areas from Atlanta to Philadelphia, new threats are developing in the Plains and the Southeast, with more than 5 million people facing at least a slight risk for damaging winds and heavy rainfall on Tuesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
Many people from Alabama to Pennsylvania were without power early Tuesday.
North Carolina had more than 140,000 utility customers without power early Tuesday, while Pennsylvania had more than 103,000 outages, according to PowerOutage.us. Maryland and Georgia also were reporting more than 70,000 and 40,000 outages, respectively.
At one point Monday, more than 40 million people stretching from New York south to Tennessee were under tornado watches.
Numerous reports of hail 2 inches or larger were made in Virginia, including one report of hail the size of a grapefruit (4.75 inches) in Caroline County, the Storm Prediction Center said. That’s the largest hail reported in the state of Virginia since 2002, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia.
The storms also disrupted travel Monday. More than 8,600 flights within, into or out of the US were delayed Monday and more than 1,700 were canceled, according to FlightAware.com. As of early Tuesday, more than 300 flights had been canceled and more than 600 delayed.
Ground stops were in effect for nine major airports during part of Monday, including Atlanta, Charlotte, New York City’s three major airports, the three major airports in the Washington, DC, area, and Philadelphia International Airport. Ground stops mean planes destined for those airports were to be held at their points of origin.
Heavy rain still could hit upstate New York and northern New England, the National Weather Service said. Flood watches were scheduled to be in effect into Tuesday evening.
A slight risk of severe thunderstorms – a Level 2 of 5 – exists Tuesday for parts of Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, as well as parts of Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas, the Storm Prediction Center says. An enhanced risk – a Level 3 of 5 – exists for a smaller portion of the latter three states.
‘You could hear something coming’
Strong storms also hit the Midwest early Monday, and surveys determined EF-1 tornado damage in Indiana’s Dubois and Orange counties Monday, the National Weather Service office in Louisville said.
It was unknown whether the damage was caused by one longer tornado or multiple tornadoes, according to the weather service.
In Indiana’s Orange County, the sun came up in Paoli on Monday to reveal damage and littered debris. An emergency was declared for the town because of the storm, and officials warned Monday that it may take several days to get power restored there.
Aerial video showed structures in Paoli with their roofs peeled off or crushed under large fallen trees Monday as debris lay scattered on the streets.
Another Paoli resident said he took shelter as the storm approached.
“I came out the wind was calm, but you could hear something coming,” Peter Bostock told WDRB. “So that’s the first time I took shelter in my whole life.”
Bostock woke up Monday morning to find his yard littered with trees, and some were snapped or uprooted, he said.