Severe storms with 70 mph wind gusts pushed through the Chicago area Monday afternoon, leaving widespread damage and hundreds of thousands without power, and one confirmed tornado that touched down on the North Side.
The storm pushed through about 4 p.m. while residual high winds over 60 mph continued to cause damage, according to the National Weather Service. Although the storm brought tornado-speed winds, there were no reported fatalities and few injuries, the weather service said.
Nearly a half million ComEd customers were affected by power outages Monday evening, according to the utility company. By Tuesday morning, about 100,000 people in Chicago were still without power.
The weather service confirmed a tornado touched down in Rogers Park and moved over Lake Michigan, becoming a waterspout. A video circulating on social media showed debris flying in the air in the North Side neighborhood.
A gust of 72 mph was recorded at Midway International Airport shortly before 4 p.m., while O’Hare recorded a 62 mph gust, according to the weather service.
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Reports of damage were most heavily reported on the Northwest Side, according to the Chicago Fire Department. Blue Line trains were halted near O’Hare Monday evening while crews worked to clear debris from the tracks.
While much of the wind damage was straight-line wind, a few tornadoes were likely embedded within the storm complex across the region, and one has been confirmed in Rogers Park, IL. This did move out over Lake MI becoming a waterspout. #ILwx pic.twitter.com/h7ZyC8zldh— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) August 11, 2020
Firefighters also responded to several fires caused by fallen power lines. One fire in the 1800 block of South Canalport was caused by wind damage to a building under construction. No injuries were reported.
Forecasters warned of widespread damage as the storm approached during the evening rush. The weather service issued a tornado warning that expired 4:30 p.m. Monday in northern Chicago, DuPage and some northern suburbs. A severe thunderstorm watch expired at 7 p.m.
The storm approached Chicago at 50 to 60 mph from Nebraska and Iowa, where at least 350,000 people lost power.
Tuesday and Wednesday calls for a slight chance of storms in southern Cook County. A spokesman with the weather service said residents could expect lighter, breezy winds in the morning.
The weather service also advised people to stay away from Lake Michigan Monday night into Tuesday due to dangerous conditions including currents, waves up to six feet and rapid water level fluctuations.
We recommend staying away from the immediate #LakeMichigan shore into Tuesday. High waves & strong currents, along with potentially rapid water level fluctuation (especially this evening) will cause dangerous conditions. Onlookers may get swept into the lake. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/I2Px87hFSV— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) August 10, 2020