A view of destroyed homes in the aftermath of a tornado, after a monster storm system tore through the South and Midwest on Friday in Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S. April 1, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
Intense storms swept across much of the Eastern United States on Monday, resulting in a tragic toll of at least two fatalities, hundreds of thousands left without power, and thousands of flight cancellations or delays, according to an AFP report.
Millions of people were placed under severe weather alerts, including tornado watches, as rain, powerful winds, and hail traversed the Eastern seaboard, stretching from Alabama to New York. The National Weather Service (NWS) had anticipated a moderate risk of hazardous storms, predicting wind gusts reaching up to 80 miles per hour (130 km/h).
The NWS in Baltimore and Washington urged the public to stay weather-aware and ensure access to multiple warning channels via their social media channels. While much of the severe weather danger subsided towards the late evening, some regions remained under flood threats due to ongoing rainfall.
Noteworthy was the record of hail as large as 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) in diameter in Virginia, as reported by the NWS. Tragedies were reported in Alabama, where a 28-year-old man lost his life after being struck by lightning in an industrial park parking lot, as well as in South Carolina, where a 21-year-old lost his life due to a falling tree outside his grandparents’ house, according to a local CBS station.
By late Monday, power outages had impacted more than 700,000 customers along the East Coast, as reported by the tracking website poweroutage.us. Flight operations were significantly affected, with more than 1,700 flights cancelled and over 8,000 delayed on Monday due to the looming severe weather, according to the website FlightAware.
In anticipation of the adverse weather conditions, federal agencies in Washington had dismissed employees at 3 PM (1900 GMT). These storms coincided with intense heat warnings across large portions of the southern United States, including Texas, Louisiana, and Florida, with temperatures predicted to soar up to 108 degrees Fahrenheit (42 degrees Celsius) through Tuesday.
Scientists emphasize that climate change has escalated the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events worldwide.