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Windy “Derecho” storm system heading East

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(CNN) — U.S. Open play resumed around noon ET after it was postponed because of severe weather moving into the area earlier Thursday, according to the tournament’s website.

The action at Merion Golf Club just outside Philadelphia isn’t the only fun the severe storm could continue to affect as rain and other nasty weather punches east.

Severe thunderstorms were predicted from New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania down to Northern Virginia. Soaking rain was likely from Massachusetts to West Virginia.

The National Weather Service’s latest report says that the greatest impact will be damaging winds, large hail and possibly tornadoes. The weather was expected to intensify in the early afternoon, the service said.

Earlier Thursday, with the words, “Turn around … don’t drown,” the weather service warned motorists in and around Lansing and Hastings, Michigan, not to drive through flooded streets.

It assured motorists they would see such flooding after a storm system that wracked the upper Midwest on Wednesday with hail, strong winds and at least one confirmed tornado.

Clouds stalling out over Michigan were likely to result in “excessive rainfall” that would “cause flash flooding to occur,” the weather service said overnight.

“Do not underestimate the power of flood waters,” it warned in a flash flood bulletin. “Only a few inches of rapidly flowing water can quickly carry away your vehicle.”

Residents of Fort Wayne, Indiana, received a similar warning. “Flooding is occurring or is imminent,” the service said.

Damaging winds

A system of straight-line winds that slammed Chicago with 50-mph gusts and golf ball-size hail reportedly bowled over trees and buildings in Auglaize, Ohio, early Thursday, said CNN meteorologist Ivan Cabrera.

Local media in the state reported hundreds of households had lost electricity.

The “derecho,” as the windy system is called, usually builds in the Midwest then heads east, he said. “Derecho” is a Spanish word that means straight.

The system resembles a squall line, but instead of potentially producing tornadoes, it sends out a slicing wind.

Derechos usually dissipate quickly, but “this one is holding together pretty good,” Cabrera said. It could make it to the East Coast.

Behind it is a band of thunderstorms throwing down lots of lightning and heavy rain.

A broad swath of flood warnings and watches extends from Illinois to the Atlantic.

Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said Thursday that officials have been in touch with its state and local emergency management counterparts and with the National Weather Service as it monitors the system.

By Ben Brumfield and Ashley Fantz

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