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More Damaging Winds Sweep In

Downed Power Line

High winds and storms Wednesday took down this power pole in Harvey. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 10/27/10 11:56 a.m.

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WATCHES AND WARNINGS
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CHICAGO (CBS) - Another bout of damaging high winds is swirling through the area Wednesday, as people try to clean up and ComEd crews work to get power restored.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros reports a high wind warning remains in effect for much of northern Illinois from until 7 p.m. Wednesday. The high wind warning covers Cook County, as well as the collar counties of Lake, DuPage, Kane and McHenry. It also covers a wide area of the Midwest, from the western Plains states all the way to Ohio.

Counties not under the wind warning are under a wind advisory.

The winds are expected to gust as high as 60 mph later in the day, and up to 40 mph overnight, Glaros reported at 11 a.m.

All area counties can expect winds gusting up to 50 mph on Wednesday. Areas under the high wind warning can expect sustained winds between 30 and 40 mph.

The National Weather Service warns once again that objects that are not anchored to the ground may go flying in the wind, and tree limbs and power lines may come down. More outages are also anticipated, and traffic signals will also likely be affected, the Weather Service said.

Delays and cancellations have been reported at Chicago’s airports due to the wind. Flights at O’Hare International Airport were delayed by an average of one hour, and more than 150 flights had been canceeld. At Midway International Airport, minor delays were reported.

The Chicago Departmentof Aviation adivses passengers to check their airlines’ web site for the status of their flights.

Meanwhile, the cleanup from the storms and wind Tuesday is well underway.

Early Tuesday morning, ComEd had already restored power to 200,000 customers. A total of 2,100 customers remained without power as of the 11 a.m. hour Wednesday morning.

While crews are working to repair outages, the total number of customers without power, and in particular the number of outages in the north and west suburban regions, has actually been increasing Wednesday morning.

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The damage was hardly limited to power outages. In south suburban Harvey, gusts caused power lines to buckle, trees to topple, and limbs to come crashing down on cars.

In Glenview, a section of the village was without power after gusts above 60 mph at times proved too much for the wooden power poles.

Crews worked through the day and night clearing debris and restoring power.

The damage was even more severe in the Fox Valley town of Sandwich, where officials say it could take several days before repairs are complete.

According to Sandwich police chief Bill King, the large transmission poles that cross both East and West Sandwich roads toppled around 6:50 a.m. Tuesday. The poles fell north of Sedgewick Road and west of Cook Road near Plano.

As of Tuesday afternoon, no traffic was able to pass on either East or West Sandwich roads between Pratt and Chicago roads, King said. King predicted that the road will be closed for a significant amount of time.

King said that when the transmission poles collapsed three years ago, the road was closed for days.

“It is going to be a major inconvenience for people in the Sandwich, Somonauk area,” King said. “It’s not going to be a quick fix.”

In Lindenhurst, the high winds knocked down a branch from a 70-foot tree, which was sent crashing onto a smart car being driven down Grand Avenue by Helen Miller. The branch ended up lodged in Miller’s abdomen.

Before the winds struck Tuesday, severe storms swept through the area.

The storms produced three confirmed tornadoes in northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana. An EF2 tornado was seen in Peotone in 7:40 a.m. Tuesday, and an EF1 tornado touched down in Elburn at 6:55 a.m. An EF0 tornado touched down in the Porter County, Ind., town of Malden at 8:33 a.m.

The Peotone tornado destroyed two barns and snapped a telephone pole. It also knocked two teenage brothers, Justin and Jesse Schroeder, back into their house as they left for high school.

In the small town of Wantah in LaPorte County, Ind., a tornado was captured on surveillance video by Hoosier Machinery Solutions. Workers took cover when the tornado hit, but everyone escaped without injury.

While the storms are over, the high winds are keeping some Chicago’s top attractions closed Wednesday.

The Chicago Park District announced Wednesday morning that the Lincoln Park and Garfield Park conservatories will be closed for a second day. The botanical showcase structures are surrounded in glass, and the Park District says it is too dangerous.

Also on Tuesday, the Willis Tower closed its Skydeck observatory and its Ledge skybox attraction because of the high winds. Tower officials are expected to make a decision later Wednesday morning on whether to reopen the attractions for Wednesday.

The storms and wind are all part of the Great Lakes Cyclone, a rotating storm system which is centered on a low-pressure that was over central Minnesota Tuesday. As the cyclone swept in about 24 hours ago, the National Weather Service had been dubbing it one of the worst storms in 70 years.

At 956 millibars, the pressure recorded Tuesday was, in fact, the second lowest ever recorded for storms in the Great Lakes region. The lowest was 950 millibars, during the Great Ohio Blizzard in January 1978.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli and Megan Glaros, and the Sun-Times Media Wire, contributed to this report.