Chicago, IL

At Least Seven Tornados Touch Down in Chicago Area Monday as Storms Cut Power to More Than 90k And It's Not Over Yet

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

Hot and humid conditions have been producing dangerous thunderstorms in the Chicago region, spawning tornados and cutting power to tens of thousands of Chicago electricity customers.

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Lightening over Lake Michigan during dangerous thunderstormArturas Rosenbacher/flickr

I enjoy thunderstorms especially when I’m working or trying to get to sleep. I find them to be very soothing providing they’re far enough away and not causing other problems. The thunderstorms that hit Monday night here in the Chicago area were pretty severe though they didn’t last for that long, at least in Rogers Park. The same thing occurred Tuesday night. Then we lost power.

It wasn’t a problem as I still had supplies from last summer when we got slammed by a tornado that laid waste to parts of East Rogers Park. I had two little flashlights that have several different settings, even able to become small table lights when you turn the top so the light comes out the sides. I also had candles galore. I had finished writing for the night but wasn’t going to waste the energy and ambiance of thunderstorms and candlelight so I opened my laptop once more.

Our power came back on within the hour and I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed. I turned off the lights, and tried to pretend, but it just wasn’t the same. I did appreciate having the fans back on as it was a hot night and the temperature quickly rises on my apt unless there are fans circulating everywhere.

This is not to minimize the seriousness of the storms that moved through the area. While our power returned quickly, others weren’t so lucky. More than 96,000 electricity customers still had no power Wednesday morning following severe thunderstorms with winds that knocked down trees and power lines with them, Tuesday night.

Most of the people who still have no power are in Cook, Lake, McHenry and Kane counties. The Tuesday storm that produced the downed power lines was estimated to have wind gusts up to 70mph according to the utility company.

People living in Evanston and Plainfield reported widespread tree damage. In Evanston, 6,000 customers lost power and there were malfunctioning street lights, traffic signals and significant street flooding.

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation the storms caused more than 300 flight cancellations at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on Monday after the severe storms caused a ground stop and an evacuation of the airport’s control tower. Additionally, 235 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport as of 9 p.m. Tuesday and 40 others were canceled at Midway.

According to Metra officials, the inbound and outbound Metra UP-West line trains were stopped between West Chicago and Elburn because of the severe storms and extreme winds Tuesday night. Trains were also stopped on the UP-Northwest line between Barrington and McHenry, in both directions.

The inclement weather also led to Monday night’s game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers to be postponed to Tuesday. The team asked fans who had already arrived at the stadium to immediately take cover. Unfortunately, the Cubs lost both games of the double header Tuesday to Milwaukee.

These storms and power outages occurred just one day after at least seven tornadoes touched down in parts of northern Illinois.

The tornados that touched down were thought to be primarily EF 1. The EF Scale or Enhanced Fujita Scale for ranking the severity of tornados is based on windspeed. EF 1 tornados have wind gusts up to 110 mph. The entire scale is below:

Weather experts are expecting, for the fourth time in three days, a severe weather event to occur in the Chicago area Wednesday night. They are warning that there is a strong line of thunderstorms that is anticipated to move into the Chicago region tonight and they will likely trigger warnings. They believe that there could be more tornados that form.

A Heat Advisory is also still in place and not set to expire until 7:00 p.m. this evening. They expect the storms to approach the area by about 6:00pm but may not move into the Chicago region until 8:00 to 10:00pm. They may remain in the area until midnight to 2:00am. The main concern is damaging winds that could reach over 60mph. There is also a possibility of quarter sized hail.

But things aren’t expected to end on Wednesday as more storms are expected to hit the Chicago area Thursday before the pattern of heat, humidity and thunderstorms with damaging winds is broken. Storms are expected to develop yet again on Thursday in the late afternoon and evening, with some becoming severe before they exit the area. The heat advisory will be continued with the temperatures in the 80s to low 90s, but feeling more like 100 to 105 degrees.

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