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High winds knock out power to thousands, blow semi over side of Dan Ryan, carry smoke from Kansas

Record high temps of 66 degrees were set Wednesday and early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

High winds hit the Chicago area Wednesday, knocking out power to thousands.
Sun-Times file photo

Chicago set two record high temperatures Wednesday and Thursday as high winds carried smoke from Kansas, left thousands without power and blew a semi-trailer off the side of the Dan Ryan Expressway.

The new records were set as temperatures reached 66 degrees Wednesday afternoon and stayed there into early Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The temperature is expected to drop to 38 degrees by Thursday evening as a cold front moves in.

Winds peaked at 66 mph Wednesday evening at O’Hare International Airport and 74 mph on Lake Michigan, according to the weather service.

The wind blew a semi-trailer over the side of the Dan Ryan Expressway early Thursday. The truck was pushed into the median shortly after 1 a.m. near 27th Street and then barreled over onto Wentworth Avenue, Illinois State Police said. Two people were taken to hospital with injuries not life-threatening.

Winds also brought smoke from Kansas wildfires, carried by 100 mph winds and tornados there.

“Any early risers out there may smell smoke,” the weather service in Chicago wrote on Twitter. “Have no fear — there are no fires nearby. The smoke is actually from Kansas, traveling some 600 miles overnight with the strong southwest winds.”

Meanwhile, more than 12,000 homes and buildings were still without power Thursday morning, according to ComEd. Over 100,000 customers had lost power but more than 80% had their service restored by the morning. ComEd said the remaining outages would be restored by 11 p.m. Thursday at the latest.

The high wind warning expired at 9 a.m. Thursday, but gusts up to 40 mph were expected to remain throughout the afternoon.