By Timothy Mclaughlin

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Tornadoes and storms that killed at least three people and destroyed homes in the U.S. Midwest on Tuesday are moving toward the East Coast, according to weather forecasters and media.

Severe thunderstorms and possible travel delays are likely later on Wednesday in New York City, Washington, Philadelphia and Boston, AccuWeather meteorologists said.

"Severe thunderstorms will continue to spread across the Ohio and Tennessee Valley regions into the Middle Atlantic states, possibly into southern New England by midafternoon," the National Weather Service said in an advisory.


The storm has left tens of thousands of people without electricity, according to local officials and media reports.

Two people were injured and falling trees damaged homes on Wednesday in Clarksville, Tennessee, around 50 miles (80 km) northwest of Nashville, police said.

Roads were closed at 12:30 p.m. in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which straddles the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, due to forecasts of heavy winds, rain, lightning and hail. Wind gusts of up to 80 mph (129 kph) were expected, park officials said.

A 24-year-old man was killed near Perryville, Missouri, on Tuesday night when the vehicle he was driving on Interstate 55 was blown off the road by high winds and he was ejected, Corporal Juston Wheetley, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol said by telephone.

About 90 miles (145 km) southwest of Chicago, in LaSalle County, Illinois, a man was killed by a falling tree when a tornado struck at around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, authorities said.

"A tornado came through and pretty well put a direct hit on the LaSalle County Nursing Home, LaSalle County Highway Department, the town of Naplate and the city of Ottawa," county Sheriff Tom Templeton said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The 68 nursing home residents were evacuated and a few suffered minor injuries, said Chris Csernus, an administrator for the facility. Its roof was damaged and windows were blown out.

In the rural town of Crossville in southeastern Illinois, several homes were leveled, and one person was killed by a storm on Tuesday, Treasurer Hannah Riley said by telephone.

Electricity has been restored to the area of around 800 people, Riley said, but homes remained without gas on Wednesday morning.

"Our mayor is actually helping shut off gas meters right now," Riley said.

Tornado spotters reported at least 23 twisters in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Tennessee and Indiana on Tuesday evening, the National Weather Service said.

(Reporting by Timothy McLaughlin in Chicago; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee and Tim Ghianni in Nashville, Tennessee; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Leslie Adler)

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