Power outages and wind damage stretched up and down the East Coast Monday, as severe storms brought fierce straight-line winds and heavy rainfall from New York to Georgia.

Nearly 30 million people in the mid-Atlantic region were under a tornado watch Monday, in an area stretching from New York to Kentucky. Severe storms were forecast from North Carlina to Alabama.

On Monday the FAA warned that it would be rerouting flights around the widespread storms, affecting air travel across the Northeast.

Ground stops paused air traffic at East Coast airports Monday, including in Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Commuter rail networks in Maryland and Virginia warned of cancellations and possible delays as a result of the weather. Government employees in the Washington, D.C. area were sent home early.

On Monday evening, the line of storms brought gusts close to 60 miles per hour in places near Washington, D.C.

Straight-line winds brought down trees and power-lines in the region, and some power companies reported “widespread and extensive” damage to their networks. As of Monday evening, more than half a million customers had lost power across Georgia, North Carolina, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia.

The severe weather outbreak follows several days of active weather. More than 300 severe weather reports were filed with the National Weather Service on Sunday, predominantly along the Gulf Coast. More than 200 reports of severe weather were filed on Saturday, including several for winds exceeding 80 mph in Kansas.

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Fueling the storms is warmth and humidity that will cause heat indexes to rise to 100 in some areas. 

The storm system is separating relatively mild conditions in the Midwest from oppressive heat in the South. Excessive heat warnings have been issued from Georgia and Florida to West Texas. The National Weather Service projects the heat index will reach 118 in New Orleans on Monday. 

Meanwhile, much of the Midwest will remain in the 70s on Monday.

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