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Strong Storms Sweep Into Chicago Area

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Credit: Joe Maciasz

Credit: Joe Maciasz

UPDATED 6/12/2013 9:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Powerful storms ripped through the Chicago area on Wednesday, with huge hail, strong winds and reports of some tornadoes.

There were reports of storm damage in the town of Shabbona, 17 miles south of DeKalb. Police reported many trees and power lines were down in the rural area. Many towns reported large hail, but as of 6:30 p.m. there were no reports of major damage.

In Chicago, Metra Union Pacific/North trains were delayed due to weather in the suburbs. Those trains were moving again by 6:45 p.m. At O’Hare, a total of 365 flights were canceled.

Boats pushed on to the shore at Shabbona Lake State Park.  (Credit: Suzanne Le Mignot)

Boats pushed on to the shore at Shabbona Lake State Park. (Credit: Suzanne Le Mignot)

Around 5:45 p.m., a severe thunderstorm warning was issued for Cook, DuPage and Will counties until 6:45 p.m. Those storms moved into Northwest Indiana around 6:15 p.m.

The first storms began to fire up in counties west of Chicagoland around 3:45 p.m. Tornado warnings were issued for Ogle, Lee and Winnebago counties. At 4:25 p.m. a Tornado Warning was issued for DeKalb County has the system began to track to the west toward Chicago. At 5:15 p.m. a Tornado Warning was issued for Kendall County until 6 p.m.

A tornado was spotted near Somonauk in DeKalb County at 4:54 p.m. Tennis ball-sized hail was also reported.

Hail in Oswego. (Credit: Katelyn Willmann)

Hail in Oswego. (Credit: Katelyn Willmann)

Heavy rain was falling in the western suburbs, like Naperville and Aurora, around 5 p.m. Hundreds of lightning strikes were reported in the area. Tornado sirens were going off in Aurora around 5:20 p.m.

There were reports of golf-ball-sized hail in Oswego. Also, large hail was reported in Naperville and Aurora.

A lightning strike is being blamed for starting a house fire in Lemont. Witnesses say the could see it from I-355. There are no reported injuries as a result of the fire.

The line of powerful storms–with large hail and strong winds and lightning–extended from Interstate 80 to the south to the Wisconsin state line.

ComEd’s outage map shows about 37,000 customers without electric service as of 9:45 p.m., mostly south and southwest of the city. NIPSCO says more than 33,000 customers are without power in northwest Indiana, mostly in Crown Point and Gary.

The National Weather Service had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch for the entire Chicago area and Northwest Indiana until 1 a.m.

In advance of the storm, the Chicago White Sox canceled their game tonight at U.S. Cellular. The town of Evanston canceled all public events after 3 p.m. and dismissed school early.

Navy Pier canceled its evening fireworks show as well as performances at the beer garden and Cirque Shanghai.

City of Chicago has cancelled all outdoor events in Millennium Park, including the opening night of the Grant Park Music Festival

The line of storms also could spawn an unusual weather event called a derecho, which is a massive storm of strong straight-line winds.

According to the National Weather Service, a derecho is a band of storms with winds of at least 50 knots, or 58 mph along the entire span of the storm front, and maintained for at least six hours.

Derechos happen once or twice a year in the middle part of the country, and can generate winds of 75 mph or more, create large hail, or even spark tornados.

In case of severe winds or tornadoes, residents should go to the lowest level of their homes, if possible, and stay away from windows. Find an interior room with no windows, if possible, and cover your head.

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