CHICAGO (Reuters) - The remnants of tornadoes and storms that killed at least three people and destroyed homes in the U.S. Midwest rolled across the Southeast on Wednesday, sweeping the region with hail and high winds, the National Weather Service said.
Severe thunderstorm warnings were scattered across the Southeast and wind gusts of 50 or 60 miles per hour (96 kph) were recorded as the system headed toward the Atlantic coast, said Jared Guyer, a forecaster with the Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Although the chance of a tornado could not be ruled out, the system has lost much of the punch that kicked up a spate of twisters from Iowa to Tennessee late on Tuesday, he said.
"It's kind of the last gasp, if you will, of this multi-day round of severe weather that we've had," Guyer said. "The main thing that we're expecting from there is wind and damaging hail."
The line of thunderstorms, which included a wind gust of 78 mph (126 kph) in Quantico, Virginia, just outside Washington, cut power to tens of thousands of customers, downed trees and damaged homes, according to local officials and media reports.
As the storms rolled east, communities were left to dig out. The National Weather Service said tornado spotters reported at least 23 twisters in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Tennessee and Indiana on Tuesday evening.
Two people were injured and falling trees damaged homes on Wednesday in Clarksville, Tennessee, around 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Nashville, police said.
A 24-year-old man was killed near Perryville, Missouri, on Tuesday night when his vehicle was blown off a highway by high winds, authorities said.
About 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Chicago, in LaSalle County, Illinois, a man was killed by a falling tree when a tornado struck at around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, authorities said.
"A tornado came through and pretty well put a direct hit on the LaSalle County Nursing Home, LaSalle County Highway Department, the town of Naplate and the city of Ottawa," Sheriff Tom Templeton said at a news conference.
In the rural town of Crossville in southeastern Illinois, several homes were leveled, and one person was killed by a storm on Tuesday, Treasurer Hannah Riley said by telephone.
Reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington, Jonathan Allen in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Adler