Tri-State flood watch in effect as powerful ‘derecho’ storm heads east

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(CNN) — U.S. Open play resumed around noon ET after it was postponed because of severe weather moving into the area earlier Thursday, according to the tournament’s website.

And the weather situation appeared to be looking up for Philadelphia, near the site of the tournament. Severe storms are no longer in the forecast for the city, and the national Storm Prediction Center has removed Washington and Baltimore from the moderate risk area issued in earlier forecasts. There is now only a slight risk for severe storms in Washington and Baltimore on Thursday afternoon and evening.

The storms that moved through the area Thursday morning robbed the atmosphere of the moisture necessary for severe storms to form in the Washington area later Thursday, said CNN meteorologist for CNN Sean Morris.

The storm poses the biggest threat south of Washington, in southeastern Virginia and north central and northeastern North Carolina, including the Raleigh area. Damaging thunderstorm winds gusts will be the primary threat, Morris said.

Earlier Thursday, with the words, “Turn around … don’t drown,” the National Weather Service warned motorists in and around Lansing and Hastings, Michigan, not to drive through flooded streets.

By 2 p.m ET, streets in Lansing were flooded and some were closed because of high water, according to CNN affiliate WILX.

The storm system had already wracked the Upper Midwest on Wednesday with hail, strong winds and at least one confirmed tornado.

The weather service warns that “only a few inches of rapidly flowing water can quickly carry away your vehicle.”

Residents of Fort Wayne, Indiana, received a similar warning. “Flooding is occurring or is imminent,” the service said.

CNN affiliate WANE reported Thursday that severe storms damaged northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio.

Damaging winds

A system of straight-line winds that slammed Chicago with 50-mph gusts and golf ball-size hail reportedly bowled over trees and buildings in Auglaize, Ohio, early Thursday, said CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

Local media in the state reported hundreds of households had lost electricity.

The “derecho,” as the windy system is called, usually builds in the Midwest then heads east, he said. “Derecho” is a Spanish word that means straight.

The system resembles a squall line, but instead of potentially producing tornadoes, it sends out a slicing wind.

Derechos usually dissipate quickly, but “this one is holding together pretty good,” Cabrera said. It could make it to the East Coast.

Behind it is a band of thunderstorms throwing down lots of lightning and heavy rain.

A broad swath of flood warnings and watches extends from Illinois to the Atlantic.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Thursday that officials have been in touch with its state and local emergency management counterparts and with the National Weather Service as it monitors the system.

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