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TODAY   |  June 13, 2013

Multiple tornadoes touch down in Midwest

A string of thunderstorms whipped through the Midwest on Wednesday, bringing with them tornadoes reported from Iowa to Indiana. The East Coast is bracing for the same severe storms today. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren and Al Roker report.

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>> roker. al's got a busy morning because this is a massive storm system impacting some 75 million people in nearly two dozen states. you're looking at some of the damage, some of the torrential rains, damaging winds that have already lashed parts of michigan overnight.

>> and we are just beginning to feel the impact of these storms here in the northeast. we're going to get to al for his forecast in just a moment, but we want to begin with nbc's kristen dahlgren. she's in chicago this morning, and she'll show us the damage that's already been done. good morning to you.

>> reporter: good morning, savannah. they're breathing a sigh of relief in chicago . a very different scene overnight, and now millions more bracing for this massive and dangerous system. a rough night across the midwest with tornadoes touching down in iowa, while in oswego and yorkville, illinois, lightning strikes and thunderstorms blanketed the area. outside of chicago , the weather channel 's mike seidel took cover with his crew inside their vehicle near joliet.

>> you can see what may be a rain-wrapped funnel cloud . hear the tornado siren right out our back door. it was piercing. for about 15 or 20 minutes , we got just shellacked with winds.

>> reporter: lightning even hitting the sears tower .

>> did quite a bit of damage.

>> reporter: in northeastern illinois, heavy rain sent residents running for cover while hail, sleet, and high winds battered the area, knocking down trees and power lines .

>> quite the wind. probably one of the better winds we've ever seen here.

>> reporter: in lake dalton, wisconsin, heavy rain caused part of the roof to collapse at this walmart. wednesday's storm left thousands of people without power in the chicago area while 500 flights out of o'hare international airport were cancelled. no major injuries reported so far, but at least 20,000 customers here in the chicago area without power, and, savannah, that number could grow exponentially as we go through the day today as this thing heads east.

>> kristen dahlgren in chicago , thank you.

>> al has been tracking this storm over the next 24 to 48 hours . al, what do we expect today?

>> we have ground stops at the airports at d.c. , philadelphia, baltimore, and laguardia. those airport delays are just going to grow. look at this massive system stretching from indianapolis all the way to new york. you can see the lightning strikes already with it. we have severe thunderstorm watches with it in effect right now, from parts of central pennsylvania down to washington , d.c. , until 11:00 a.m . this morning. as we go into the live radar, you can see exactly where all this is going on. haguerstown, maryland, back to el kins, west virginia , it's moving to the east. washington , d.c. , you're going to see it about 9:00. and here's what we can expect as far as today is concerned. we've got a risk of strong storms from jackson all the way to the northeast. as we zoom in, the strongest risk for severe damaging winds, hail, possibility of tornadoes, richmond, norfolk, d.c. , all the way up, just south of new york city . so we are going to be looking at not only the damaging winds and all the hail, but rain where we have not seen -- or we've seen a lot of rain. we're going to see even more. upwards of five inches of rain from central pennsylvania back into new england, and so we have flash flood watches and flood watches in effect from northern indiana all the way to boston, new york, washington , and pittsburgh. it is going to be a mess, and the rain lasts right on into tomorrow. savannah?