Strong Midwest Storms Reach D.C. Region

A National Weather Service tornado watch for the D.C. expired at 3 a.m. Wednesday.

A strong storm front that has caused havoc throughout the Midwest has pushed into the Washington region overnight.

There is a chance of strong thunderstorms (and the accompanying severe weather statements) and gusty winds as rain enters the area, according to NBC4 chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer. Isolated tornadoes are possible.

The biggest threat of storms in the D.C. area should be between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday.

There will be another chance of severe storms late Wednesday morning and through the afternoon farther south and east of Washington, Kammerer said.

A storm drawing comparisons to a hurricane muscled across the Midwest on Tuesday, snapping trees and power lines, delaying flights at one of nation's busiest airports and soaking commuters who slogged to work under crumpled umbrellas.

The storm -- quickly nicknamed a "chiclone" and "windpocalypse" -- swept an area that stretched from the Dakotas to the eastern Great Lakes. Severe thunderstorm warnings blanketed much of the Midwest and tornado watches were issued from Arkansas to Ohio. Flights were delayed at O'Hare International Airport, a major hub for American and United airlines.

Meteorologist Amy Seeley described the storm as one of the worst in decades based on a reading of the pressure level at its center, which was similar to a Category 3 hurricane -- although the effects of the storm were not. The wind gusts were only as strong as a tropical storm; Category 3 hurricanes have winds from 111 to 130 mph.

"This is a very different type of event," said Edward Fenelon, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Romeoville, Ill. "But that does give an indication of the magnitude of the winds. This isn't something you see even every year."

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