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79,000 still without power after storms; some outages may linger until Friday

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Updated: July 24, 2012 7:37PM

About 79,000 Chicago area people remain without power Tuesday after strong thunderstorms hit before the morning rush, and some will have to wait until Friday to get the lights back on.

A statement from Commonwealth Edison early Tuesday evening said the utility expects to have power restored “to the majority of affected customers by Thursday evening, with heavily damaged isolated areas lingering into Friday evening.”

ComEd spokeswoman David O’Dowd said more than 310,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm, with the Aurora and Rockford areas hardest hit. About 237,000 of those had power restored, he said.

As of 5 p.m., about 79,000 remained in the dark, with 28,000 of those in the western suburbs, 22,000 in Chicago and the near west suburbs, 21,000 in the south suburbs and 7,600 in the north suburbs, O’Dowd said.

About 430 ComEd and contracted crews are working to restore power, but the utility statement said while it is “still assessing the full scope of damage to its electrical system, historically storms of this size and magnitude typically take several days to complete restoration.”

The storm also affected air and train travel in the area.

As of 3:40 p.m., the city’s Dept. of Aviation was reporting delays of up to 30 minutes for all inbound and outbound flights at O’Hare, where airlines have cancelled 115 flights.

At Midway, up to 45-minute delays remained, though no flights were canceled, Aviation said.

CTA Pink and Green Line, as well as Metra trains resumed normal service after experiencing delays Tuesday morning, but South Shore Line trains were still experiencing lengthy delays.

The NICTD website said eastbound Train 205 was 108 minutes behind schedule, while westbound delays ranged from 7 minutes for Train 102, to 84 minutes for Trains 110 and 116. The delays followed a lengthy closure of tracks in both directions between East Chicago and Hegewisch after a wire fell and damaged a circuit Tuesday morning in Hammond, Ind.

The bulk of the thunderstorms passed through the Chicago area Tuesday morning, and there is a 40 to 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms overnight and Wednesday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

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