CHICAGO (STMW) – Officials from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications and the Chicago Fire Department Sunday morning urged residents to prepare for the possibility of “a significant and dangerous outbreak of severe thunderstorms” Sunday night.

“According to the National Weather Service, there is a chance that a significant and dangerous outbreak of severe thunderstorms could arrive in the Chicago area between 6 p.m. — 10 p.m.,” Jose Santiago, executive director of OEMC, said at the office headquarters on the Near West Side Sunday morning. “The severe weather system, if it hits our area, could bring with it damaging winds, large hail in excess of two inches and the potential of violent tornado activity.

“Our message this morning is simple: Chicago residents need to be aware that we could experience severe weather, and take precautions now, before the severe weather arrives,” Santiago said.

The Shamrock Shuffle, which begins at 9 a.m., will not be affected by the upcoming weather conditions, Santiago said. Although it will be warm and humid, event organizers are prepared for the weather and runners should stay hydrated, Santiago said.

Santiago encourages residents to remove debris from around sewers before the storm arrives so water can drain.

“Contrary to popular belief, tornadoes can strike major cities,” Santiago said. “Again, it is possible that we won’t experience any storm activity in our area.”

But Santiago encouraged people to be prepared and families should have an emergency plan in place. The city may activate the emergency warning system, which includes sirens, Santiago said. The sound of the siren will go up and down repeatedly for three minutes. If people hear the sound while outside, they should get inside immediately. Once the threat has passed, the sirens would be a steady sound for three minutes.

The OEMC is going to continue to monitor the conditions throughout the day, according to Santiago who has informed all the city’s department heads of the situation and will stay in contact throughout the day with updates.

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