Freakish Storm Brings Hail, Tornadoes to East Coast

Line of storms follows in footsteps of abnormal warm front.

A tractor and trailer rest on the highway after a tornado moved through the town of Adairsville, Ga. on Jan 30, 2013.
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A deadly squall line stretching from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico is expected to hit the East Coast Wednesday afternoon, bringing with it powerful winds, rain, and possible tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm system thrashed the South and Midwest earlier in the week with hail, severe thunderstorms, and several tornadoes. Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky were among the worst hit, where winds reaching 80 miles per hour toppled trees, brought down power lines, and left thousands without power as of early Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

The storm killed at least one person near Nashville, Tenn., and spawned at least one tornado in the area according to The Tenneseean.

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Nashville Electric reported nearly 20,000 customers had their power knocked out by Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service has issued severe storm warnings and watches for much of the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, with "hail to one inch in diameter" expected along with wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour and "dangerous lightning." Western Maryland and Virginia, as well as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia are in the storm's immediate trajectory.

"Persons in these areas should be on the lookout for threatening weather conditions and listen for later statements and possible warnings," the NWS's storm watch reads. "Severe thunderstorms can and occasionally do produce tornadoes."

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The line of storms is forecast to reach the eastern seaboard late Wednesday afternoon and night. The storm will likely bring high winds and heavy rains all up and down the 1,300-mile long squall line. In the Washington, D.C., area, winds of 35 to 50 mph are expected, though some gusts could reach 60 mph or more, along with some flooding.

The system is a result of two colliding weather systems, a warm front moving north from the Gulf and a cold front moving southeasterly from above Montana and surrounding areas, according to Weather Undergrounds' Jeff Masters.

The volatile mixture resulted in a squall line stretching north-south made up of balmy thunderstorms preceded by abnormally warm temperatures. Once the storm passes, temperatures will likely plummet on the East Coast as they have in the Midwest, where Tuesday's record highs have been followed by temperatures in the twenties and thirties. Earlier in the week, parts of the East Coast saw snow and freezing precipitation making this an unusually sharp change in temperatures, which are often a precursor of severe storms.

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