Giant Storm Moves East

Threatens 1 in 5 Americans

Lighning strikes.

Lighning strikes.     Photo: John Fowler/Flickr

A line of fierce thunderstorms may affect up to one in five Americans Wednesday as it rumbles from Iowa to Maryland, dumping hail, toppling trees, and leading to power outages. Meteorologists warn that the storms may spawn a derecho, a line of storms with straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles.

The risk of severe weather in the Midwest is roughly 45 times higher than on a normal June day, Bill Bunting, operations chief at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center, told CBS News. Up to 64 million people in 10 states are within the path of the storm, which is expected to start in the early afternoon in eastern Iowa before hitting Chicago, moving at about 40 mph.

A 2012 derecho caused at least $1 billion in damage, killing 13 people, and leaving more than 4 million without power. Winds reached nearly 100 mph in some locations. An additional 34 people died from the post-storm heatwave.

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