CHICAGO — A massive line of storms packing hail, lightning and tree-toppling winds began rolling through the Midwest on Wednesday evening and could affect more than 1 in 5 Americans from Iowa to Maryland before subsiding.
In the small town of Belmond, Iowa, Duwayne Abel, owner of Cattleman's Steaks & Provisions restaurant, said a tornado swooped through his business' parking lot and demolished part of the building.
Other small tornadoes were also reported in other parts of Iowa and in Illinois.
In addition to tornadoes, lightning and large hail, meteorologists were warning about the possibility of a weather event called a derecho, which is a storm of strong straight-line winds spanning at least 240 miles.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., was using its highest alert level for parts of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
In Chicago, Wednesday night's White Sox game against the Toronto Blue Jays was postponed and a symphony concert at the city's downtown Millennium Park was canceled.
All told, the area the weather service considered to be under heightened risk of dangerous weather included 74.7 million people in 19 states.
For Washington, Philadelphia and parts of the Mid-Atlantic the big storm risk continues and even increases a bit today, according to the weather service.