June 13, 2013 / 1:50 PM / 6 years ago

Severe weather threatens U.S. South with hail, damaging winds

(Reuters) - A severe storm system threatened the U.S. South with damaging winds and large hail on Thursday after earlier thunderstorms dumped heavy rains, delayed flights and downed power lines in the Mid-Atlantic.

Storm clouds pass over the top of the Empire State Building in New York, June 13, 2013. A severe storm system sweeping the U.S. East Coast on Thursday delayed flights and threatened to snarl work commutes a day after causing several tornadoes, damaging hail and high winds across the upper Midwest. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Parts of Virginia, North Carolina and surrounding states were under severe thunderstorm watches into the evening following wind-producing storms in New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland, the National Weather Service said.

“We’re expecting mainly damaging winds and large hail with perhaps a few tornadoes,” said Jonathan Garner, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

No tornadoes had been reported by mid-Thursday, Garner said.

A 19-year-old woman working at the Plumpton Park Zoo in Rising Sun, Maryland, was hospitalized after being hurt when lightning struck a nearby tree. She had to be resuscitated at least twice, and her condition was not known, said Cecil County Emergency Services Director Richard Brooks.

Meteorologists said they did not expect weather as intense as the storm system on Wednesday that caused several tornadoes, damaging hail and high winds across the upper Midwest.

A swath of severe weather reported from southern Minnesota to western Pennsylvania and West Virginia caused widespread power outages, and the weather service website showed more than a dozen reports of tornadoes in Iowa, Illinois and Ohio.

On Thursday, thunderstorms delayed flights in cities including Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York, according to website FlightAware.

Federal employees in Washington were allowed to take unscheduled leave or to work remotely. Play at the U.S. Open golf tournament in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, was suspended for more than three hours.

The U.S. tornado season was relatively quiet until May 20, when a monster EF5 storm, the highest rating, hit the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore, killing 24 people and flattening whole sections of the town. Another wave of storms hit Oklahoma on May 31, killing about 20 people.

Additional reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Scott Malone, Lisa Von Ahn and David Gregorio

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