Washington, DC, Baltimore metro areas under gun from tornadoes - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Washington, DC, Baltimore metro areas under gun from tornadoes

Washington, DC, Baltimore metro areas under gun from tornadoes

(RNN) - The Washington, DC, and Baltimore metropolitan regions are under a tornado warning as severe weather continues to move through the area where more than 2.5 million people live.

Tornadoes  touched down in the suburbs of the nation's capital, spawned by the huge storm system that caused flooding and wind damage Wednesday in the Upper Midwest .

One twister hit near Gaithersburg, MD, and a waterspout was reported over the Chesapeake Bay. The storm cell started in Sterling, VA, and crossed the Potomac River.

The National Weather Service confirmed that a small tornado with winds of 50 mph touched down in Montgomery County, MD, just north of the capital. Damage has been reported in Olney and Rockville, MD, which are northwest of Washington, DC.

In addition to the tornado warnings, the National Weather Service has issued flash flood warnings for the area. Straight-line winds of 70 mph are possible, and heavy rains could cause low-lying areas to flood.

The severe weather is part of the system that formed in the Upper Midwest on Wednesday that meteorologists feared would spawn a derecho - a cluster of thunderstorms that produce very high, damaging winds over a broad area.

The Associated Press reported that several farm buildings in northeast Iowa near Wabash were destroyed by straight-line winds of up to 100 mph, which inspectors said were some of the highest they had ever seen.

Golf-ball sized hail and winds of about 60mph hit in an area from Gary, IN, to Fort Wayne, IN, and a couple of tornadoes touched down in northern Iowa. In Chicago, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower), was hit by lightning.

More than 50,000 residents were without power at one point Wednesday night. Power was restored to most of those homes by Thursday afternoon.

Whether the storm technically qualified as a derecho remains to be determined.

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