Residents in the Chicago area took cover and watched the ominous skies for hours on Wednesday as a tornado tore through the area.
The National Weather Service confirmed at least two damaging tornadoes moving through the Chicago area around 7 p.m., triggering a tornado warning for Cook County and a tornado watch for surrounding counties.
A massive tornado uprooted trees and damaged homes in the Edgewater by Del Webb community of Elgin.
The warning was lifted at 7:45 p.m., although residents were advised to stay indoors and monitor weather reports for most of the night.
The tornado made landfall near O’Hare International Airport around 7 p.m., weather services confirmed. The tornado was “intermittently hitting the ground” and moving east, according to a tweet from the weather service. Cook County is under a tornado warning after a tornado was confirmed east of South Elgin, the agency said.
Confirmed tornado on the ground near O’Hare! This tornado has occasionally hit the ground so far and is moving eastward. There is additional circulation along the south line of O’Hare. Seek shelter if in a warned area! https://t.co/lirNZotdNn
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) July 13, 2023
Tornado siren warnings sounded across the city late Wednesday, and weather warnings flashed on cellphone screens.
Dark funnel clouds over St. Charles around 6:25 p.m. Wednesday.
Flights were grounded at Midway and O’Hare airports. Normal fighting operations resumed at Midway at approximately 7:45 pm with a minimum departure delay of 15 minutes. Flights at O’Hare also resumed around 8pm, with ongoing delays.
Travelers seeking refuge at O’Hare International Airport.
Tornado watches are available for the DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kankakee, La Salle, McHenry, and Will counties until 10:00 p.m. Tornado watches mean a possible tornado; it is less severe than a tornado warning, which indicates that a tornado has been seen or expected by weather services.
The main area at risk for tornadoes is between Interstate 80 north towards the Wisconsin/Illinois state line, according to the weather service.
The expected hail and winds in the area could be severe enough to damage cars and buildings and topple fences and trees.
The tornado/wind felled trees in the northwestern suburb of Huntley.
On a scale of 0-5, the threat of severe weather was categorized as a 3 by the weather service early Wednesday.
The city’s Department of Emergency Management will be prepared with flood mitigation equipment and in coordination with the Roads and Sanitation, Transport and Water Management departments, according to a release from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office.
City officials asked residents to refrain from using extra water for bathing, washing clothes or household chores to reduce stress on the city’s wastewater system. Residents can report water reserves in their homes or businesses by calling 311 or going to 311.chicago.gov to report water in basements, puddles in streets and flooding of bridges.
Jake Petr, a meteorologist with the weather service, said rainfall at O’Hare Airport totaled 0.7 inches by 4:30 p.m. At Midway Airport, it recorded 1.1.7 inches.
One of the highest totals for the day in the area was in Romeoville, at 2.63 inches, said Petr.