Storms Rip Down Trees, Set House Ablaze, Cut Power To Thousands
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UPDATED 07/19/12 3:30 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Booming cracks of thunder awoke the Chicago area overnight, but many homeowners are finding more than just rain on the streets outside.
In the McHenry County town of Marengo, winds gusted up to 50 mph and snapped trees like twigs.
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Whipping winds also sent tree branches flying in Carpentersville. The owners of one home believe lightning may have struck a tree and sent it crashing into their garage.
Branches came to rest among the homeowner’s bicycles in the garage, and left a huge hole in the roof. But homeowner Ramiro Olvera says it could have been much worse.
“It pretty well took out the fence here on the side of the house,” Olvera said. “We’re just lucky enough it didn’t hit any further into the house.”
Meanwhile, lightning is believed to be to blame for a house fire in the Northwest Side’s Dunning Square neighborhood.
Firefighters arrived on the scene just after midnight after the attic of a house at Newland Avenue and Byron Street caught fire. They had to cut a hole in the roof to fight the flames.
No one was injured in the fire.
The storms are also blamed for a gas leak that erupted into a raging fire in Lyons. The gas leak sprang near a storage facility at 1st Avenue and 43rd Street in Lyons in the predawn hours, and a fire was raging by the 6 a.m. hour, officials said.
One person had to be evacuated, and a stretch of busy 1st Avenue was shut down. No injuries were reported.
It was a busy night for ComEd too, as crews have been working around the clock to restore power to thousands of customers. By Thursday afternoon, some 10,700 customers in the Chicago region were still without power.
At the height of the storm, the outages totaled 121,000. The western suburbs were hit hardest. Everyone is expected to have power by Friday afternoon.
The storms also left plenty of stranded travelers at Chicago’s airports. A total of 150 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport on Wednesday night, and a dozen more at Midway International Airport.
Delays at the airports totaled up to 2 1/2 hours.
On Thursday morning, O’Hare was experiencing delays of up to 15 minutes and had canceled 75 flights as of 10:30 a.m. Midway was experiencing delays of 45 minutes for flights to the East Coast, as the stormy weather had moved in that direction.
As of the 5 a.m. hour Thursday, most of the storms were moving out of the area, from Kankakee County across the state line to Northwest Indiana.
Another round of storms was passing over the North Shore, working their way from Glenview southeast to the North Side of the city.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Mary Kay Kleist says the storms will be around for the morning rush, but will die out later in the day.