With severe thunderstorms and dangerous wind gusts heading toward the Chicago area, the National Weather Service has issued a warning to businesses and residents to prepare for the worst.
According to a message sent out by the weather service Monday afternoon, restaurants with outdoor dining facilities, facilities using umbrellas and tents, such as public pools, and residents with backyard patio sets and furniture outdoors will need to bring those objects indoors immediately as powerful weather threatens the region.
Currently a line of severe thunderstorms is racing across western Illinois, packing sustained wind speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour. Those storms produced remarkable wind gusts in Iowa, some of which even flipped over cars along U.S. Route 30, according to Storm Team Meteorologist Paul Deanno:
The storms are currently entering Illinois, and are expected to move quickly, up to 70 miles per hour in some locations. As a result they will rapidly enter the Chicago area, reaching places like Ottawa and Peru around 2:30 p.m. and hitting the city and surrounding suburbs at approximately 3:30 p.m., according to forecast models.
In addition to the danger of winds gusting in excess of 80-90 miles per hour, sustained winds of up to 70 miles per hour are possible for at least half an hour with these storms, creating potentially dangerous situations for those caught driving during the storm.
Power outages are possible due to the high winds and frequent lightning, so officials are advising residents to charge their phones.
In Midway, Iowa, a wind gust of 112 miles per hour was recorded:
Officials are warning residents to bring in all umbrellas, tents or other loose objects in their yards or outside their places of business. Those objects could potentially become projectiles, causing extensive property damage or even posing a threat to the health and safety of those inside of nearby buildings.
Residents are also being urged to seek shelter in the lowest level of their homes, or to find a strong interior room as tornadoes are possible with the line of thunderstorms.
Intense lightning and ping pong ball-sized hail is also possible.
Severe thunderstorm warnings have already been issued for areas west of Chicago, and are expected to be issued for northeastern Illinois in the afternoon hours.