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Powerful Storms Strike Chicago Area

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Rain falls in the city. (CBS)

Rain falls in the city. (CBS)

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UPDATED: 5/25/2011 11:55 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Severe weather hit the Chicago area this morning, with more than two inches of rain falling in some areas in just a few hours.

And more storms are expected later in the day around Chicago.

The National Weather Service says a major tornado outbreak could impact central and southern Illinois this afternoon. Some schools and business are closing early in southern Illinois because of the threat.

The storms have led to three hour delays at O’Hare International Airport, with 550 flights canceled as of 10:30 a.m. Midway Airport is experiencing 45-minute delays and “a few” cancellations.

ComEd reports that about 5,100 customers are without power, with 4,500 of those in Chicago or southern suburbs.

Around 7:30 a.m., strong storms hit areas around Kankakee, Joliet and Aurora. The line of storms continued to move toward the southern suburbs of Chicago. Northwest Indiana also got heavy rainfall.

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CBS 2 meteorologist Megan Glaros reports that cooler air near Chicago helped lessen the severity of the storms as they headed in a northeasterly direction. Heavy rain was falling in downtown Chicago by 8:15 a.m.

According to storm reports from the National Weather Service, the heaviest rains so far Wednesday morning were in Will County, where 2.54 inches of rain fell in Mokena between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.; and 2.26 inches of rain fell in Peotone between 7 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

In Lake County, Ind., there was minor flooding and .69 inches of rain had fallen in Crown Point between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., according to the weather service.

Firefighters in St. Anne., about 70 miles south of Chicago reported a tornado touchdown this morning.

A fire department spokesman says firefighters were returning from an unrelated call when they saw a funnel cloud. Then a tornado hit a farmhouse and shed about three miles out of town.

No one was home at the time, but strong winds from the tornado snapped telephone poles and tossed debris from the house and the shed into a nearby field.

After the morning round of storms, there will be a break in the heavy rain. However, there is a good chance of more severe weather Wednesday evening, Glaros said.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed

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