A tornado touched down Wednesday night near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, bringing passengers to safety and disrupting hundreds of flights. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
A confirmed tornado was on the ground around 7 p.m., according to the Chicago Weather Service.
“This tornado has touched down sporadically so far and is moving east. There are additional inflows along the line south of O’Hare. Seek shelter if you are in the warning area.”
At 8 p.m., the weather service said the Chicago forecast area is “currently free of tornado warnings.” It said the storm was moving east toward southwest Michigan, and the hurricane was in force through Thursday morning in parts of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio.
Video from television stations showed hundreds of people sheltering in O’Hare’s lobby. About 173 airport departures have been canceled and more than 500 delayed, according to flight-tracking service FlightAware.
Kevin Bargins, director of communications for O’Hare and Chicago Midway International Airport, told WGN-TV Wednesday night that no damage was reported at either airport.
The National Weather Service issued two tornado warnings for Chicago on Wednesday night. Sirens sounded to warn people to find shelter.
Longtime Chicago resident Lynn Baker posted a video to Twitter of sirens blaring across the city’s iconic skyline.
“I’m in a 60-story building, so my options are kind of limited,” he said. “I think we have to get to the heart of the building. »
Baker said news of the storm had spread through local media.
“You panic when you see the TV screen and everything is red, but you hope the damage is minimal,” he said.
According to local news sources, warehouses near O’Hare were damaged.
The weather service quoted an unidentified emergency official as saying that a roof was blown off in the community of Huntley in McHenry County, northwest of Chicago. Firefighters and other emergency services were responding to downed power lines, trees and tree limbs, and there were reports of power outages, Mike Pierce, chief of the Huntley Battalion, told ABC-7-TV. He said that the damage to the building appeared to be concentrated around two residential buildings.
More than 10,000 customers have lost power in the area, according to poweroutage.us.
In Hodgkins, southwest Chicago, storm damage and debris were discovered in the north end of town near a shopping mall, police said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center said there is an increased risk of severe weather events, including tornadoes, in northern Illinois, including Chicago.
Brett Borchardt, chief meteorologist for the National Weather Service, confirmed to WGN-TV that several tornadoes have struck the Chicago area. He said it will likely take days to assess the damage.
Over the years, many tornadoes have struck the Chicago metropolitan area, many of which have struck within the Chicago city limits, according to the National Weather Service. Between 1855 and 2021, the weather service recorded 97 major hurricanes in the Chicago metropolitan area.
The deadliest formed in Palos Hills in Cook County on April 21, 1967. The tornado traveled 16 miles (26 kilometers) through Oak Lawn and the south side of Chicago, killing 33 people, injuring 500 and causing more than $50 million in damage, according to the weather service.