Severe Thunderstorm Watch Expands in Chicago Area

Winds are expected to be so powerful that driving may be difficult

A powerful storm hit the Chicago area Wednesday evening with strong winds and heavy rain, all of which threaten the Thursday morning commute.

The entire Chicago area was under a Severe Thunderstorm Watch Wednesday evening until 11 p.m.  

Additionally, the National Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for DeKalb, LaSalle, and Livingston counties. It will last until 8:30 p.m., the service said.

Winds from the storm system reached upwards of 50 mph. The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday.

Winds are expected to be so powerful that driving may be difficult, according to the advisory, especially for high profile vehicles. Motorists are urged to be alert and use caution.

A High Wind Warning is also in effect in northern Indiana from midnight to 9 p.m. Thursday, with gusts of 58mph or more possible. 

A wind ban is also in effect on the Indiana Toll Road from midnight until 7 p.m. Thursday. The ban includes all triple tractor-trailers, long-doubles and high-profile oversize permit loads, according to officials. All other vehicles will be permitted. 

Rain is expected to hit after the evening rush hour, with isolated showers beginning after 6 p.m. and getting stronger from 8 to 10 p.m. and throughout the evening.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency on Tuesday issued an alert encouraging residents to stay aware of local forecasts and "be prepared to act quickly if storm warnings are issued."

“Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can happen any time of the year,” IEMA Director James K. Joseph said in a statement. “We’re keeping an eye on the storm system predicted for Wednesday, and encourage everyone to stay aware and be prepared to seek shelter if a storm warning is issued.”

Forecasters on Monday warned 63 million people in the central U.S. to have an eye out for bad weather this week as colliding air masses threaten to generate high winds and possibly tornadoes.
Missouri, southern Illinois and northern Arkansas face the greatest severe weather threat.

The Storm Prediction Center said that the storms' severity would be dictated by how much warm, humid air can funnel into the area before a cold front approaches from the west. It was too early to pinpoint where the strongest storms might hit.

Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are also expected Thursday ahead of a big temperature cool down. Highs will sit in the low-50s Thursday before falling into the mid-40s by Friday.

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