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Strong storms, hail hit Chicago area

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Updated: July 5, 2011 11:11AM



Violent thunderstorms pelted the Chicago area with rain and hail Thursday night -- downing trees, denting police squad cars and delaying some commuter trains for more than three hours. More than 32,000 people remain without power early Friday while airlines expect lingering flight delays.

The ‘supercell’ storm swept through the metro area Thursday evening and hit Chicago shortly after 9 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

Hail stones up to the size of baseballs were spotted near 26th Street and Kedzie Avenue in Chicago during the height of the storm, according to the weather service. Two-inch hail was spotted in the Northwest Side Logan Square neighborhood, while neighborhoods and suburbs throughout the metro area saw hail measuring more than an inch in diameter.

The hail damaged at least 23 Chicago Police squad cars parked in the West Side Ogden District and a dozen more in the neighboring Harrison District, police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli said.

The damage ranged from dents to smashed windows to smashed rooftop lights, Mirabelli said.

As of 7:30 a.m., airlines at O’Hare and Midway International Airports are already expecting delays of 20 to 30 minutes later Friday morning because of yesterday’s storms, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.

As of 5:30 a.m., 32,000 ComEd customers in the Chicago area are without power, ComEd spokeswoman Arlana Johnson said. That number is down from about 107,000 who were without power as of midnight.

The outages include 4,700 people in the city and near west suburbs, Johnson said. More than 23,000 people in the northern suburbs, 4,00 in the southern suburbs and 80 people in the farther western suburbs also remain in the dark, Johnson said. ComEd crews are out working early Friday to continue repairs.

Downed power lines across the Union Pacific North Metra lines near Waukegan wreaked havoc on train schedules delayed some passengers for up to four hours. Trains were operating normally against as of about 8 a.m., according to Metra’s website.

Strong winds were clocked at 60 miles per hour in south suburban Will County, and blew down large trees in north suburban Zion Beach State Park. Some structures and mobile campers were damaged by falling trees in Lake County, the weather service said.

In Winthrop Harbor, weather conditions damaged boats and ripped sails at the North Point Marina, according to the weather service. High winds at the marina also topples light poles and trees more than a foot wide.

Trained spotters in the northern suburbs reported seeing funnel clouds over Great Lakes Naval base and Wadsworth, while a water spout was seen east of Zion, according to the weather service.

State Police reported no major accidents on the roads, though cars in downtown Chicago were spotted taking cover under overpasses to avoid the golfball-sized hail.

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