Deadly storm batters Eastern US with wind and heavy rain

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WASHINGTON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A powerful storm system plowed up the U.S. Eastern seaboard with torrential showers and high winds on Monday, hindering airline and rail travel, after killing at least 21 people in the South, many in mobile homes demolished by tornadoes.

The storm, which unleashed deadly twisters in Mississippi and Georgia over the weekend, turned cooler as it advanced on the Northeast, where residents faced potential flooding, downed power lines and high surf late on Monday and early Tuesday, said Tim Morrin, the National Weather Service's New York observation program leader.

19 PHOTOS
Deadly tornadoes hit Georgia, Mississippi and Florida
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Deadly tornadoes hit Georgia, Mississippi and Florida

Damaged trees and homes along Magnolia Street in Hattiesburg, Miss., after a tornado struck on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Four people died and at least 25 were injured in the storm.

(John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

A child's shoe lies in the mud at the Big Pine Estates Mobile Home Park after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Residents survey damage after a tornado struck a residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

A damaged gas station is pictured after a tornado struck on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Residents survey damage at Big Pine Estates Mobile Home Park after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

An empty slab is pictured next to damaged mobile homes at the Big Pine Estates Mobile Home Park after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

A damaged car is seen after a tornado struck a residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Residents work on the roof of their home after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

A tractor trailer lies on its side after a tornado struck a residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Deanna Furlow holds her cat Buttercream as she surveyed and removed belongings from a friends home after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Residents of Magnolia Street in Hattiesburg, Miss., take a break from cleaning up after a tornado hit the area on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Four people died and at least 25 were injured in the storm.

(John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

A 40-foot container was found flipped over several cars and an electric utility pole had come crashing down on the vehicles on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 after a tornado touched down in Medley, Fla.

(C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Two women console each other on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 as they prepare to move out of their apartment building, which was deemed uninhabitable by the City of Hialeah after a tornado damaged the roofs of the building.

(C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Lasheree Richardson (L-R), Charlee Daly, Rochelle Vaughn and Deanna Furlow remove belongings from their home after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Residents wait outside the entrance to Big Pine Estates Mobile Home Park after a tornado struck the residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Tedarron Price carries a chair salvaged from his tornado-damaged house in Hattiesburg, Miss., on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Four people died and at least 25 were injured in the storm.

(John Fitzhugh/Biloxi Sun Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

Residents survey damage after a tornado struck a residential area on Sunday in Albany, Georgia, U.S. January 23, 2017.

(REUTERS/Tami Chappell)

Gabriel Cacabelos surveys the damage after a tree fell on his car on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017 as a tornado touched down in Hialeah, Fla.

(C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images)

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"The best place to be is inside," Morrin said.

Two commuter rail lines operated by New Jersey Transit, which serves about 100,000 passengers daily, suspended service during evening rush hour between New York City and parts of New Jersey due to fallen power lines, the agency said on its website.

About 742 U.S. airline flights were canceled, with New York metropolitan airports bearing the brunt of the aviation disruptions, according to the air traffic website FlightAware.

New York City emergency management officials warned that winds speeds could reach 60 miles per hour through Monday night, with more than 3 inches of rain possible. Flood advisories and watches were issued for much of the region.

Northern Pennsylvania and parts of New England were expected to receive more than 6 inches (15 cm) of wet snow, producing dangerously slick roads. Forecasters said winds topping 50 mph (80 kph) could whip the East Coast from Delaware to Maine, where the state legislature canceled all business for Tuesday in anticipation of harsh weather.

As the storm front reached the Middle Atlantic Coast on Monday evening, a flood warning was posted for parts of southwestern Virginia, and a high wind advisory was in effect for western North Carolina.

The storm was expected to take a northeastward path away from the U.S. coastline by Wednesday evening, the Weather Service said.

11 PHOTOS
California inundated with heavy rain and snow -- January 2017
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California inundated with heavy rain and snow -- January 2017

Floodwaters flow over a street during a rain storm on January 23, 2017 in Santa Clarita, California. Heavy rains pounded Southern California over the weekend causing flooding, mudslides and bringing down trees in the region. The rains are expected to taper off by end of day on Monday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A vehicle is buried in snow off Highway 18 during a blizzard on January 23, 2017 in Rimforest, California.

(Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Floodwaters flow over a street during a rain storm on January 23, 2017 in Santa Clarita, California. Heavy rains pounded Southern California over the weekend causing flooding, mudslides and bringing down trees in the region. The rains are expected to taper off by end of day on Monday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A city worker uses a snowblower to clear the walkways during a snowstorm on January 23, 2017 at Lake Arrowhead Village, California.

(Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Cars drive through rain on a flooded street in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)

A truck drives by a flooded street during a rain storm on January 23, 2017 in Santa Clarita, California. Heavy rains pounded Southern California over the weekend causing flooding, mudslides and bringing down trees in the region. The rains are expected to taper off by end of day on Monday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A man and his dog walk on the snow covered roads during a snowstorm on January 23, 2017 at Lake Arrowhead Village, California.

(Photo by Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

A front loader clears mud and debris from a street during a rain storm on January 23, 2017 in Santa Clarita, California. Heavy rains pounded Southern California over the weekend causing flooding, mudslides and bringing down trees in the region. The rains are expected to taper off by end of day on Monday.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Dale Ball of La Canada has rain gear for herself and her dogs while walking past Devils Gate Dam towards Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena on January 23, 2017.

(Photo by Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Crews clear mud from the intersection of Deerlane Drive and Melcanyon Road in Duarte, California January 23, 2017 as another night of rain brought more thick mud and debris flowing past homes.

(FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

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The rain and snow will help ease a dry spell in the northeast United States, where much of the region has suffered from moderate to extreme drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Thunderstorms and tornadoes spawned by the same weather system killed 16 people on Sunday in Georgia, according to a tally by the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma. Four of those fatalities were confirmed, and a toddler was reported missing, in Dougherty County after a twister left a path of destruction up to a half mile wide.

A trailer park was especially hard hit, and local authorities said they expected the death toll to rise.

"It literally looks like God took half of the mobile home park and threw it across the street into the woods," Dougherty County Commission Chair Chris Cohilas said at a news conference.

A tornado killed four people, three of them in mobile homes, in the southern Mississippi town of Hattiesburg on Saturday, and one person was reported killed in northern Florida when a tree toppled onto a house during a severe thunderstorm, authorities said.

(Additional reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Florida; and Laila Kearney, Frank McGurty and Chris Michaud in New York; Editing by Scott Malone, James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)


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