Cool air off lake spared most of area from severe storms
BY MITCH DUDEK, TINA SFONDELES AND ART GOLAB Staff Reporters June 12, 2013 12:12PM
Updated: June 13, 2013 8:12AM
Turns out those feared 75-mph derecho winds might have been just a lot of hot air.
Although the National Weather Service logged reports of a funnel cloud in Will County and a possible tornado touchdown west of Chicago, most of the metropolitan area was spared from severe storms.
“We suspect a tornado or multiple tornadoes from the Paw Paw area in Illinois trough Somonauk and south of Yorkville,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss.
Severe-storm warnings sent fearful commuters home from work early, canceled classes for high school and college students and scratched a concert at Millennium Park.
“The Chicago area didn’t get hit because the cool air off Lake Michigan weakened the hot moist air that fuels thunderstorms,” Deubelbeiss said.
“We suspect tornado or multiple tornadoes from the Paw Paw area in Illinois trough Somonauk and south of Yorkville,” he said..
Suburbs to the south and west were not as lucky. There were reports of golf-ball size hail in Naperville, Bourbonnais and Aurora. Winds topping 62 mph were reported in Lowell, nearly 100 miles southwest of the Chicago.
Closer to Chicago, nickel-size hail was reported in Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates.
At its height, storms left about 54,000 ComEd customers in the Chicago area without power, mostly to the south and southwest. About 6,800 customers were still without power Thursday morning.
Lightning hit a two-story house in the 16400 block of Alba in Lemont, causing a fire shortly before 6 p.m., but no one was injured, according to Lemont Fire Chief Carl Churulo.
Tornado sirens sounded in Joliet and elsewhere and there were reports of trees downed in Lockport and New Lenox.
The storm seemed ominous as it passed through Plainfield and blew around patio and deck furniture, said Chris Hinchliffe, a captain with the Plainfield Emergency Management Agency. “We did have a rotating wall cloud pass over,” he said.
At the height of the evening rush, Metra halted inbound and outbound commuter rail service on its Union Pacific Northwest, West and North Lines as well as its Burlington Northern line to Aurora.
Flights at O’Hare Airport were are delayed between 60 and 90 minutes because of rain, and 360 flights were canceled, according to the city’s Department of Aviation. At Midway Airport, airlines canceled about 50 flights, and about 24 flights were delayed more than two hours.