By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Flood and severe storm warnings were issued across the U.S. East Coast on Wednesday as a storm system blasted strong winds and threatened tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.
A funnel cloud was spotted near Columbia, South Carolina, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Columbia said, but there were no reports of a tornado touching down.
The severe weather threat extended from northern Florida through parts of Virginia, including wind gusts up to 60 mph, according to forecasters on Accuweather.com. Rain was forecast as far north as Maine.
The dangerous conditions spun off from the same system that brought blizzards, floods and tornadoes to the south and central United States on Tuesday, including a twister in Alabama reported to have displaced dozens from their homes.
Wednesday's heavy rainfall contributed to several collisions involving injuries on flooded roads and highways in South Carolina, state highway patrol officials said.
State and national weather officials received reports of downed trees in several counties and a vehicle trailer blown over.
"This wall, or bands, of weather moving through the state is creating very hazardous conditions on the roadways," said Derrec Becker, South Carolina Emergency Management Division spokesman. "It's a very narrow system, but it's very fast, and it's very strong, too."
The storms threatened to delay flights and slow commutes as the intensity of the storms was expected to peak during rush hour on Wednesday evening, Accuweather.com forecasters said.
"In addition to the potential for damaging wind gusts, flash, urban and small stream flooding can occur with the drenching rain along much of the Atlantic Seaboard," Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist, wrote on the Accuweather.com site.
The region's severe weather should drop off by Thursday, giving way to cooler but calmer conditions through the weekend, Sosnowski wrote.
The Northeast is likely to see rain or wet snow on Thursday evening, with the potential for a small amount of snow accumulation on Friday morning, forecasters said.
(Additional reporting and writing by Karen Brooks in Fort Worth, Texas; Editing by James Dalgleish)