High Winds Down Trees, Leave Thousands Without Power in Illinois

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High winds downed trees and street lights, causing damage across the Chicago area as gusts of up to 70 mph were reported in some locations Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

The system generated severe weather, including thunderstorms, tornadoes and dust storms as it made its way across the Great Plains and into Iowa and Minnesota.

The storm system weakened as it approached Wisconsin and Illinois, but the gusty winds continued unabated, and will likely continue overnight.

Here is a recap of the headlines made Wednesday evening and Thursday morning:

9 a.m. High Wind Warning Ends Across Chicago Area; Wind Advisory in Effect for Kenosha, LaPorte Counties

A high wind warning ended at 9 a.m. Thursday in several counties in Illinois, as well as Lake, Porter and Newton counties in Indiana.

But a wind advisory remains in effect until 5 p.m. for Kenosha County in Wisconsin and until 3 p.m. CT in LaPorte County in northwest Indiana.

6 a.m.: Nearly 50 Flight Cancellations Reported at Chicago Airports

At least 42 flight cancellations were reported at O'Hare Airport as of 6 a.m. with another six at Midway Airport.

4 a.m.: NWS Warns of Smoke from Hundreds Miles Away Being Blown to Chicago Area

The National Weather Service warns that early risers may smell smoke when they wake up Thursday.

"The smoke is actually from Kansas, traveling some 600 miles overnight with the strong southwest winds," the weather service tweeted.

3:45 a.m.: Just over 26K ComEd Customers Remain Without Power

As of 3:45 a.m., there were 26,052 ComEd customers without power across the Chicago area.

Here are the latest figures from around the area:

COOK COUNTY - 11,091

MCHENRY - 2,084

LAKE - 1,867


DUPAGE - 736

GRUNDY - 67                                          

KANE - 1,556



LEE - 879


WILL - 692


1 a.m.: Semi Falls Off Overpass in Crash Possibly Caused by High Winds, Police Say

Illinois State Police say an accident that resulted in a semi falling over an overpass on the Dan Ryan Expressway was likely caused by high wind gusts.

Police said the crash happened just after 1 a.m. near 27th and Wentworth when the truck fell nearly 20 feet.

The driver was transported with non-life threatening injuries, authorities said.

Southbound local lanes of the expressway were closed around 27th Street, but reopened shortly after.

12:00 a.m.: More Than 32,000 ComEd Customers Without Power

As of midnight, there were 32,745 ComEd customers without power across the Chicago area.

The latest figures can be found on ComEd's website, but here were the numbers as of midnight:

Here are the latest figures from around the area:

Cook County – 14,290

DuPage County – 2,520

Kane County - 989

Lake County – 6,359

McHenry County – 1,646

Will County – 1,772

Winnebago County - 1,939

11:43 p.m.: Strongest Wind Gusts of Night Arrive in Chicago

The worst wind gusts of the evening are being reported across Chicago, with some eye-popping numbers coming across the wire.

The National Weather Service says that a wind gust of nearly 74 miles per hour, stronger than hurricane-force winds, was recorded at the Harrison-Dever Crib on Lake Michigan.

At O'Hare, wind gusts are now up to 66 miles per hour, according to NWS, indicating that the worst of the storm is arriving in the area.

11:32 p.m.: Wind Gust of 60 MPH Recorded at O'Hare

The National Weather Service is continuing to compile data on the strongest wind gusts in the area, and O'Hare International Airport hit a remarkable level on Wednesday night.

According to the service, O'Hare recorded a wind gust of 60 miles per hour on Wednesday night, one of the highest wind speeds recorded.

In Waukegan, a gust of 63 miles per hour was reported, slightly higher than a 62 mph gust reported in Rockford.

In Aurora, a wind gust of 59 miles per hour was recorded by meteorologists.

11:15 p.m.: Wind Gusts Topping Out Around 65 MPH

A line of thunderstorms that caught the attention of forecasters weakened significantly as it hit western Illinois, drawing back the possibility of even stronger wind gusts than the ones that have been reported so far.

Nevertheless, wind gusts of nearly 65 miles per hour have been reported during Wednesday's weather event:

10:50 p.m.: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Canceled in Illinois

A severe thunderstorm watch that had been issued for several Illinois counties, including Winnebago County, was canceled by the National Weather Service.

A high wind warning remains in effect.

10:08 p.m.: Thousands Without Power in Chicago Area as Heavy Winds Continue to Intensify

As wind gusts continue to intensify in the Chicago area, thousands of ComEd customers are without power late Wednesday night.

According to the latest figures from the utility, there are 16,912 customers without power as of 9:50 p.m., with most of those outages occurring in Cook County.

Officials say that 10,273 customers are without power in that county alone, although that number represents less than 5% of the company’s total customers in the area.

Another 2,695 customers are without power in DuPage County, while 1,056 are without power in Lake County, according to the utility.

9:45 p.m.: Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued for Winnebago County

The National Weather Service has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for four Illinois counties as a squall line of thunderstorms approaches the region.

The watch will remain in effect until 1 a.m. for Boone, Lee, Ogle and Winnebago counties.

The line of thunderstorms has already raced through Minnesota and Iowa, and is now bearing down on northern Illinois and most of Wisconsin. The storms are packing wind gusts of up to 70 miles per hour, and caused scattered tornadoes earlier in the evening.

8:50 p.m.: Unseasonable Warmth Shatters Records Across Chicago Area

Chicago area residents were treated to above-average temperatures on Wednesday afternoon, and the heat wave smashed a slew of records across the region.

According to the National Weather Service, the most remarkable temperature of the day was recorded at Rockford Airport, where the mercury soared to 69 degrees on Wednesday.

That reading not only set the daily record for Dec. 15, but also tied the warmest temperature ever recorded in the month of December at the airport, with the high matching one recorded on Dec. 3, 2012.

The city of Chicago also broke its record for daily high temperature on Dec. 15, as a reading of 65 degrees was recorded at O’Hare International Airport. While it isn’t the city’s official reporting site, Midway Airport also recorded a record temperature, with the high temperature hitting 66 degrees.

More temps can be found here.

8:31 p.m.: NWS Expands Range of High Wind Warning

The National Weather Service has canceled a wind advisory and issued a high wind warning in several south suburban counties, with wind gusts in excess of 65 miles per hour possible in the coming hours.

The newly-expanded warning now includes Will, Grundy and Kankakee counties, and will remain in effect until 9 a.m. Thursday.

The warning also includes Lake, Porter and Newton counties in Indiana.

Wind gusts are expected to hit between 55 and 65 miles per hour in the late evening and overnight hours, with sustained winds of 25-to-40 miles per hour expected.

McHenry, Lake, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook, Kendall and LaSalle counties were already included in the initial warning.

8:22 p.m.: O'Hare Records Wind Gust of 51 MPH

Winds are beginning to crank up across the Chicago area, with the National Weather Service reporting more gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour.

At Chicago's O'Hare Airport, a wind gust of 51 miles per hour was recorded Wednesday evening. In Rockford, a gust of 53 miles per hour was recorded, matching a gust reported in Sugar Grove earlier in the evening.

Winds are expected to continue to intensify as a front approaches the area.

6:57 p.m.: Sugar Grove Reports Wind Gust in Excess of 50 MPH

While wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour are expected to start hitting the Chicago area Wednesday night, some locations are already seeing some serious gusts as the evening progresses.

At the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, a wind gust of 53 miles per hour was reported Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.

Several wind gusts in excess of 40 miles per hour were also reported at the Harrison-Dever Crib (47 mph), DuPage Airport (45 mph) and Rockford Airport (43 mph).

Chicago’s Midway Airport reported a gust of 43 miles per hour, while O’Hare reported a gust of 41 miles per hour.

6:40 p.m.: Nearly 100 Flights Canceled, More Than 5,000 Customers Without Power as Winds Intensify

More than 5,000 ComEd customers are without power Wednesday night as high winds begin to hit the Chicago area, with most of the outages currently reported in Lake County.

According to the utility, 3,212 customers in Lake County are without power as of 6:40 p.m. Another 1,247 customers in McHenry County are also without power, according to the company.

ComEd says that 687 customers in Cook County are in the dark.

Chicago’s airports are also being impacted, as 83 flights have been canceled at O’Hare on Wednesday. Just eight flights have been canceled at Midway, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

6 p.m. High Wind Warning, Wind Advisory Now in Effect

A series of weather alerts have now gone into effect for the NBC 5 viewing area, as gusty winds are expected throughout the night and into Thursday morning.

A high wind warning has gone into effect in McHenry, Lake, DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, Cook, LaSalle and Kendall counties until 9 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Sustained winds in excess of 30 miles per hour are expected, along with wind gusts that could exceed 60 miles per hour at times.

A wind advisory is also in effect for Grundy, Will and Kankakee counties, along with Lake, Porter and Newton counties in northwest Indiana.

Sustained winds are likely to hit between 25-and-30 miles per hour, with gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour.

Residents are being urged to take a series of precautions, including postponing travel whenever possible and to stay in the lower levels of their homes because of the ferocious winds.

5:49 p.m.: Tornado Watch Isssued for Far Western Illinois

A storm system that is expected to generate strong wind gusts in the Chicago area is causing even bigger problems in far western Illinois, leading to a tornado watch for several counties that border the Mississippi River.

According to the National Weather Service, Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Carroll, Rock Island, Whiteside, Henry, Bureau, Mercer, Bureau, Henderson, Warren, Putnam, Hancock and McDonough counties are all impacted by the watch, which will last until 11 p.m.

The watch also includes most of western and central Wisconsin, parts of southeastern Minnesota and all of eastern Iowa, according to the National Weather Service.

The area could see widespread damaging winds, with gusts occasionally exceeding 90 miles per hour.

The thunderstorms, located over western Iowa when the watch was issued, are moving to the east-northeast at 60-to-70 miles per hour. Embedded tornadoes are being reported.

The likelihood of embedded tornadoes is “high” with the storm cells, as is severe wind damage.

Residents Urged to Stay in Lower Levels of Homes, Take Other Precautions Ahead of Dangerous Winds

Residents are being urged to take precautions with dangerous wind gusts set to hit the Chicago area Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

While wind gusts of more than 60 miles per hour are possible, a line of thunderstorms is expected to move through the area late Wednesday or early Thursday morning, and those storms could push wind gusts even higher, occasionally exceeding 70 miles per hour.

As a result, the National Weather Service is urging residents to take a series of precautions to protect themselves from the dangerous winds, including staying in the lower levels of homes whenever possible.

Residents are also being urged to avoid windows due to the high-speed wind gusts.

Tree and roof damage is also possible as a result of the gusty winds, and travel will be hazardous at times, according to the NWS.

ComEd Positioning Extra Crews, Equipment Ahead of Potential Outages Due to High Winds

With the Chicago area expecting wind gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, ComEd says that it is preparing additional equipment and crews to respond to any power outages caused by the severe weather.

A high wind warning will go into effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday for most of northern Illinois, with 30-to-35 mile-per-hour winds expected, along with wind gusts approaching, and occasionally exceeding, 60 miles per hour.

ComEd says that it is positioning equipment and additional crews to deal with potential power outages, saying it will employ a similar strategy to the one used when severe weather knocked out power to 46,000 customers last weekend.

Those outages were resolved within 24 hours, the utility said.

Rockford Records Highest-Ever December Temperature, While Chicago Sets Daily Record

Both Chicago and Rockford on Wednesday saw record-breaking temperatures, which are still expected to rise before midnight.

According to the National Weather Service, high temperatures in Rockford reached 69 degrees Wednesday, while Chicago hit 65 degrees.

The last time Rockford and Chicago hit record-high temperatures in the 60s on Dec. 15 was in 1971, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures could still increase Wednesday evening.

Weather officials noted that Rockford's 69 degrees on Wednesday also tied with the all-time record high for the month of December, which was originally set Dec. 3, 2021.

Chicago-Area Residents Urged to Secure Outdoor Holiday Decorations Ahead of 'Dangerous' Winds

Chicago-area residents should secure all outdoor holiday decorations and lighter outdoor furniture due to "damaging winds" expected throughout the Chicago area Wednesday evening, officials warned.

"Secure any outdoor decorations, including holiday decorations, and lighter outdoor furniture," the National Weather Service said in a warning.

The National Weather Service advised cautioned while driving in windy conditions, especially on highways and open roads. Residents are asked to avoid the outdoors during the warning, specifically in forested areas and around trees.

The National Weather Service warned that people should remain on lower levels of their homes and avoid windows during the windstorm.

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