Tens of millions of Americans are under the threat for severe weather on Thursday, as a storm system may bring the risk of gusty winds to the epicenter of the nation's coronavirus outbreak where the medical response has included tents.
The National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center said that "damaging wind gusts" may happen around midday Thursday in the Washington D.C. and New York City metro areas, while another batch of severe weather may target parts of Texas, impacting some 70 million people.
"As we get on into later on this afternoon I'm concerned about the Northeast and the Mid Atlantic where we can see or feel wind gusts in excess of 40 to 50 miles per hour," Fox News senior meteorologist Janice Dean said on "Fox & Friends."
The SPC said that conditions may allow for thunderstorms to produce "damaging wind gusts" from the nation's capital to New York City, and that "severe wind gusts" may also be possible from southern New England and southward into Virginia and the Carolinas.
The NWS said that a severe thunderstorm watch was issued until 4 p.m. on Thursday for parts of Connecticut, Delaware, Washington D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
Forecasters warned of isolated hail, "frequent lightning" and scattered wind gusts up to 70 mph.
"So we could actually have power outages in big cities like New York City, Philadelphia and D.C.," Dean said.
In New York City, where there are over 81,803 COVID-19 cases reported and 4,571 deaths, a 68-bed field hospital using tents has been operational in the city's Central Park. Other medical facilities in the region also have used tents outside to either screen or treat patients as part of the COVID-19 response.
"Of course, New York City, we have tents in Central Park," Dean said. "So if people are, health care workers that are working outdoors in Central Park, just make sure you know when there's a watch or a warning because we could see some very strong wind gusts, 40 to 50 miles per hour here in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic."
On Wednesday night, Dean said that there were "hundreds of reports of hail and damaging winds" in addition to tornadoes around portions of the Ohio Valley, Tennessee Valley and the Mississippi River Valley. A few injuries were reported following Wednesday night's storms.
In the central Indiana community of Mooresville, about 15 miles southwest of Indianapolis, bricks were scattered in the street in downtown and traffic was blocked by debris. Police officer Brock A. Chipman told WISH-TV that the storm knocked the second story off a two-story vacant building, and one woman was slightly injured after power lines fell on her car.
In the Arkansas town of Harrisburg, about 105 miles northeast of Little Rock, more than 30 homes were damaged in Poinsett County and two people were injured, KAIT-TV reported. Lightning from a severe storm near Harrisburg provided the spotlight for a possible tornado that was captured on video.
"Later on today we're also going to see the threat of severe storms across portions of Texas and toward Louisiana," Dean said.
After getting through Thursday, forecasters are concerned about a severe weather outbreak with the possibility of strong, long-track tornadoes on Easter Sunday.
Dean said over the weekend she is "really concerned" over the threat of strong, long-track tornadoes on Easter Sunday in parts of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
The threat begins in Texas on Saturday before shifting eastward by Easter Sunday toward the Gulf Coast.
"So that's going to be a big problem," she said.
In addition to the threat of severe storms, Dean said there is the potential for very heavy rain on Easter Sunday that may lead to flooding in parts of the Southeast.
"The good news is we're all social distancing, most people are at home," she said. "Just have a place where you can get your watches or your warnings as we go through the next couple of days."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.