US: Offices shut down as millions remain under tornado watch

U.S. government offices in the Washington area closed early on Monday due to approaching thunderstorms as people across the eastern U.S. were warned of possible tornadoes, damaging wind and large hailstones before the end of the day.

people across the eastern U.S. were warned of possible tornadoes
Illustrative picture: weather warning

The National Weather Service said more than 29.5 million people lived in an area from Alabama to western New York state where there was a risk of tornadoes before 11 p.m. ET.

Read: Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Ottawa-Gatineau

The greatest risk was in the mid-Atlantic area including Washington, D.C. Some places could see wind exceeding 75 miles per hour and hail larger than golf balls, the NWS said.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered departing flights grounded at airports in New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Baltimore because of thunderstorms. The FAA said it was rerouting aircraft around the storms as much as possible.

Libraries, museums, the National Zoo, pools and other municipal and federal services in the Washington area were also closing early. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said federal employees had to depart no later than 3 p.m.

FlightAware, a flight tracking site, said more than 2,200 U.S. flights had been canceled, including 89 at Washington Reagan National Airport. Another 5,700 U.S. flights have been delayed.

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