The first severe spring storms for many locations erupted across the eastern half of the nation Wednesday, bringing lightning, strong winds, hail and isolated tornadoes.
The storms fired up in the late afternoon hours, just in time to complicate travel for the evening commute.
Heavy rain, with totals as much as 2.5 inches in some areas, caused flooding in many cities. Roads in Hermitage, Mo., and Stone County, Ark., were deemed impassable by the evening hours.
I-270 and I-70 in the northwest suburbs of St. Louis closed due to downed power lines, forcing detours for many.
Strong winds caused more than 36,000 power outages in the St. Louis Metropolitan area and downed hundreds of trees across the Midwest and East.
Hail as large as 2 inches in diameter fell throughout the afternoon and evening in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri.
As the storms progressed throughout the evening, a tornado was reported to be heading toward the city, closing the St. Louis International Airport and forcing travelers to seek shelter in the airport terminal.
Other tornadoes were reported in Botkinburg and Scotland, Ark., and Hazelwood, Mo.
Ultimately, the storms were responsible for more than 260 severe weather reports to the National Weather Service.
The system will continue to migrate across part of the Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast and southern Atlantic Seaboard Thursday, again delivering the threat for strong winds, hail and tornadoes.
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