Chicago weather has begun to take a turn for the worst Wednesday evening as warning were issued of sudden severe storms approaching densely populated areas.
Severe thunderstorm watches were put into effect for several Chicago-area counties including Lake, Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties. Weather forecasters predicted large hail and also a scattering of tornadoes as alerts were issued.
The storms alarmed weather watchers in the area because of their swift movement and unexpected presence. Said Meteorologist Mike Caplan:
“All of a sudden these storms busted through.”
The severe weather is part of a large storm system sweeping across the Midwest this week.
Several areas have reported quarter-sized hail, winds pushing over 70 miles per hour, and several tornadoes. A scattering of damage has been reported, including power lines which have resulted in several minor outages.
Many areas are experiencing heavy rains accompanied by frequent lightning and thunder. A flood watch has been put in place in Chicagoland.
Aurora area emergency warning sirens were used to announce possible tornado hazards, though none have been seen within city limits so far.
News of the approaching weather in Chicago lead to public transport to delay trains because of the winds. O’Hare International Airport has also cancelled 328 flights in anticipation of take-off complications.
Several major events were cancelled in the Chicago area, including the White Sox game at US Cellular Field and the first night of the Grant Park Music Festival.
The city has closed buildings and sent employees home early, the first time Chicago weather has prompted such precautionary measures since severe blizzards in 2011.
City spokesperson Eric Palmer believes these are necessary steps:
“We’re taking this seriously. This looks as if it’s going to come into the metropolitan area during rush hour.”
The severe Chicago weather is expected to peak tonight but lessen Thursday.
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