Tornado touches down near O’Hare Airport in Chicago, disrupting hundreds of flights

CHICAGO — ( — A National Weather Service team will conduct a damage assessment Thursday in northeast Illinois, where strong winds from suspected tornadoes blew roofs off buildings, knocked down trees and forced residents to flee for safety as sirens sounded.

The weather service warned Wednesday evening that a confirmed tornado was raging near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. Passengers took shelter and the storm disrupted hundreds of flights, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Shortly thereafter, the weather service said the Chicago forecast area had “no tornado warnings at this time.” The storm moved into Michigan before moving through the state and into Canada early Thursday. The Tornado watch, which was active in parts of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, has expired.

Ty Carr, a resident of the Skyline Motel in McCook, Illinois, said the roof was blown off by the tornado.

“Just chaos,” said Carr, cradling the baby while talking to reporters. “It was very fast, and the noises, and the crackling, and the wind – it was something that I had never seen or gone through, you know?”

Rajan Patel, whose family owns the motel, said his family came to Chicago in the 1990s with nothing and now their motel is badly damaged.

“The whole place is destroyed,” Patel said. – I don’t know, dude. I don’t know how to restore anything. I don’t know.”

The weather service published map on social media, highlighting several areas where tornadoes are believed to have landed, noting that they were caused by rotating thunderstorms known as supercells. On Thursday, the team will examine the damage to determine the official number of tornadoes, their tracks and intensity ratings.

Hillary Timp of Countryside, Illinois, a suburb southwest of Chicago, who was with her husband Greg Timp, said the tornado damaged homes in the neighborhood, but thankfully no one was hurt. He also uprooted their 100-year-old tree from the ground.

“When the wind picked up very strongly, very quickly, and I was like: “Basement – now! Grab the dog, let’s go! And it wasn’t more than a couple of seconds after that, it became really insane.”

According to Greg Timp, the storm passed quickly.

“He really left as quickly as he came,” he said. “It was maybe 10, 20 seconds and he was out of here and all that stuff.”

Hundreds of videos from TV channels people take shelter in the O’Hare lobby. About 173 flights departing from the airport have been canceled and more than 500 delayed, according to FlightAware flight tracking service.

Kevin Bargnes, director of communications for O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway, told WGN-TV on Wednesday evening that no damage was reported at either airport.

Lynn Becker, longtime Chicago resident, posted video on Twitter with tornado sirens roaring over the city’s famous skyline.

“I live in a 60-story apartment building, so my options are somewhat limited,” he said. “We must, I believe, infiltrate the core of the building.

The Met Office quoted an unnamed emergency manager as saying the roof had been blown off in the Huntley area of ​​McHenry County northwest of Chicago. Huntley Battalion Commander Mike Pierce told ABC-7-TV that firefighters and other emergency services were responding to downed power lines, trees and tree limbs, and that there were reports of power outages. According to him, the damage to the buildings appeared to be concentrated around two blocks of flats.

More than 10,000 customers in the region lost power, according to, but power had largely been restored by Thursday morning.

Many tornadoes have hit the Chicago metropolitan area over the years, with several within the Chicago city limits, according to the National Weather Service. Between 1855 and 2021, the weather service recorded 97 significant tornadoes in the Chicago metro area.

The deadliest one formed in Palos Hills in Cook County on April 21, 1967. The tornado flew 16 miles (26 kilometers) through Oak Lawn and South Chicago, killing 33 people, injuring 500 and causing more than $50 million in damage. to the weather service.

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