Severe weather blasts Chicago area
A line of severe thunderstorms with winds up to 70 mph raced across the Chicago area Thursday afternoon, causing a bevy of tornado warnings, an unconfirmed tornado touchdown in Bolingbrook and massive power outages.
Gino Izzo, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said there were no confirmed tornados in the area. However, he said because of the strong winds, the service might conduct damage surveys across the region Friday.
The storms raging through the area left 186,000 customers without power as of 4 p.m., said Commonwealth Edison spokesman Luiz Diaz-Perez. ComEd services Cook, DuPage and Kane counties.
As of 4 p.m., about 108,000 customers lost service north of Chicago, 36,000 in the south suburbs, 30,000 in the city and 12,000 in the western portion of the service area.
Crews in the field were working to restore service as of Thursday afternoon.
In Stickney, a tree burst into flames in the 7000 block of 40th Street when a power line in its area began to spark.
“It all started when we had a few bursts of pretty strong wind and I think with the rain, things just got rubbing around in the trees (causing) a small fire,” Deputy Chief John Babanec said. “It was extinguished very quickly. ... We got pretty lucky.”
There were tree branches and power lines downed around Berwyn, Cicero and Forest View, though no reports of anything major, according to community officials.
DuPage County was reeling Thursday afternoon from a torrential downpour that downed trees and powerlines, leaving thousands without power.
The thunderstorm, which struck around 3 p.m., brought with it wind gusts of between 60 and 80 miles per hour, the National Weather Service reported.
Tornado warnings sent people across the region seeking shelter in basements, but there were no confirmed reports that a tornado touched down.
The county’s most severe reports of damage came from West Chicago, where a roof collapsed over a one-story building in the 300 block of Fenton Lane, an industrial sector of town.
Forty people were injured, seven of whom were transported to Central DuPage Hospital, said Cmdr. Mike Uplegger of the West Chicago Police Department.
“From what I’ve been told, the extent of their injuries are not life threatening,” he said.
For the rest of DuPage County, damage consisted mostly of felled trees and downed powerlines. There was a report of seven trees uprooted at an apartment complex near Route 53 and St. Charles Road in Lombard.
The National Weather Service expected another round of thunderstorms Thursday night.
“Probably not nearly as severe as today,” meteorologist Chris Gitro said. “Let’s knock on wood.”
Severe storms ripped through the Tri-Cities, resulting in torrential rains, downed power lines and standing water.
“At one point we were under a tornado warning; however, we do not have any confirmations of a touchdown,” said Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler.
In response to the weather, all Geneva Community Unit School District 304 elementary students that had been released to their buses were delivered home or redirected back to their elementary building or an approved tornado shelter.
Middle school and high school students were held in a safe area in their respective buildings. Students were not released until after an “all-clear” was received from the local authorities.
Due to the nature of the weather emergency, staff and administrators were with students assuring their safety.
Geneva police Lt. Joe Frega said no injuries had been reported as of 4:45 p.m.
Frega said street flooding was reported in and around Fargo Boulevard. Some trees and power lines were also knocked down due to winds in excess of 50 mph.
Gengler said Batavia did not receive as much storm damage as Geneva and St. Charles.
“It sounds like, for the most part, everything happened west of Randall Road from what I could tell. We’re not responding to a lot of calls in Batavia or west of Batavia,” he said.
Paul McCurtain, St. Charles Police Department spokesperson, said damage was fairly consistent throughout the city.
“There’s been a lot of calls of wires down, and tree limbs taking down power lines,” he said. “We’re responded to a lot of burglar and fire alarms because of the storm.”
Power loss was scattered through the area, and included the downtown area, west of the river, McCurtain said. A transformer down on Route 31 might have been the cause.
Reports of flooded basements were also coming in.
“Every once in a while we have calls of flooding in the streets, but nothing serious,” McCurtain said. “It was a very intense, quick storm.”
As of 4:30 p.m., reports of a tornado actually touching down were nonexistent.
“We spotted a cloud where it seemed like there was rotation,” McCurtain said. “Then it kind of blew southeast of us as soon as it got to the downtown area.”
Acting on a report from a trained tornado spotter, Bolingbrook turned on its 15 tornado sirens at about 3:25 p.m. today.
The spotter in Plainfield reported seeing the twister at about 3:20 p.m.
Brian Ciszczon, assistant director of Emergency Services Disaster Agency in Bolingbrook, set off the alarms.
The tornado is reported to have touched down near Royce Road and Greene Road in Bolingbrook near a horse stable. There were no injuries to people or animals. Two trees were knocked down.
The National Weather Service had not confirmed the tornado touchdown as of 5:30 p.m.
Although severe thunderstorms and heavy winds slammed through McHenry County on Thursday afternoon, as of 5:45 p.m.
Huntley Police had not reported any damage or road closures to the area.