The storms moved east from Mississippi, Alabama and northwestern Arkansas, where at least seven people were injured, two seriously, when a tornado touched down Wednesday.
Mayor Doug Sprouse of Springdale, Ark., the city where the seven people were injured, declared a state of emergency there on Wednesday. “Many residents have been displaced from their homes and numerous businesses have reported significant damage,” Mr Sprouse said in a statement.
The Weather Service said the storm line continued to move east on Thursday and could cause severe thunderstorms and isolated tornadoes from Florida to New England.
Bob Oravec, a chief forecaster for the Weather Service, said on Thursday “there is a chance of severe weather from the Florida Panhandle across virtually the entire East Coast.”
Portions of the Carolinas, Maryland and Virginia were under tornado watch Thursday night. The National Weather Service also said scattered severe thunderstorms would move through the northeast. Parts of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC, were ordered to stay alert for high winds, hail and tornadoes until 10 p.m., while parts of Delaware, New Jersey and New York had to brace for winds up to 70 miles per hour and possibly “a tornado or two” until midnight.
The Weather Service advised people in the affected areas to secure loose objects and warned of power outages and fallen trees.
More than 15,000 customers were without power Thursday night in Virginia, as well as 13,000 customers in Mississippi, 11,000 in North Carolina and 11,000 in Tennessee, according to PowerOutage.US, a utility data collection website.
Claire Fahy reporting contributed.