Thousands Without Power After Storm

UPDATED 06/21/11 11:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (STMW/CBS) — Trains have been stopped and thousands are without power after severe weather, which prompted tornado warnings, moved through the Chicago area Tuesday evening.

The storm, which hit Chicago about 9 p.m., prompted numerous tornado warnings throughout the area, according to the National Weather Service. By 9:30 p.m., the most severe portion of the storms passed to the northeast. CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman reports.

Meteorologist David Beachler said numerous funnel clouds were reported, including one near Naperville, but there are no confirmed reports of tornadoes as of late Tuesday. However, wind gusts as high as 80 miles per hour were reported in Wheeling.

The weather service has received lots of reports of wind-related damage.

“Winds that high can bring down tree lines, they can bring down power lines, they can tear roofs off buildings,” Beachler said. “It depends on how its coming together, it depends on the structural integrity of buildings … Nonetheless, the consistant theme with tonight’s storm is there are a lot of trees down and power lines down.”

By 9:30 p.m., it appeared the storms were moving away from Chicago to the northeast.

Metra reported a “variety of delays and stops,” mostly because of high winds. At 9:30 p.m., “more than 10 trains” were stopped on all Metra tracks, said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis, who described delays as “extensive.”

An inbound train from Elgin to Chicago was stopped because of a tree that fell onto the tracks, Gillis said.

All Union Pacific Northwest Line trains and Union Pacific West Line trains were stopped, while some Union Pacific North Line trains were also affected, a Metra service advisory said.

As of 10:30 p.m., 271,407 Commonwealth Edison customers are without power, ComEd spokesman Tony Hernandez said. In Chicago, 62,085 customers were in the dark.

The northern suburbs were hit the hardest, where 151,783 customers lost power, Hernandez said. In the south suburbs, about 47,500 customers are without power, while the western suburbs have about 10,000 customers in the dark.

“Crews are out to get power back as safe and as quick as possible,” Hernandez said.

At Chicago’s airports, more than 350 flight have been canceled at O’Hare Airport, while all fights in and out are being delayed an hour more because of rain and thunderstorms both in the Chicago area and in other areas of the country, the city’s Department of Aviation said.

“What a mess! We waited on the tarmac for three hours before being rerouted back to the terminal. Then we had to sit on the plane and wait for 100 mph wind gusts to subside,” said Sarah Batista of WBTV Charlotte who had her flight canceled due to the storm. “The plane was rocking back and forth. People are hungry and tired.”

At Midway Airport, a number of flights were delayed up to two hours, while over 30 have been canceled, the department said.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011 and CBS contributed to this report. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

  • FR

    To cut traffic jams and save gas, we need to have traffic lights with battery backup to function even with power outages. Often they blink red, so some of them do have power so why not have them cycle red & green, even if the sensors are disabled to conserve power, cycling green, yellow, red without sensores would be a big improvement.
    Also, an expensive smart grid would not restore downed wires but the smart part would be vulnerable to lightning damage.

  • Jeanne Haenisch

    There has not yet been any mention that dozens of flights were already delayed at O’Hare when this storm hit because the Vice President had landed there a few hours earlier. Many more people were at risk of injury from this storm as a result of this delay. Perhaps it’s time to investigate an alternative landing site for the nation’s executives than the busiest airport in the country during rush hour.

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