Tornado warnings send Chicagoans to basements as winds reach 90 mph in city

Tornado warnings sounded across the Chicago area as storms ripped through the region Monday evening, with winds reaching up to 90 mph in Chicago and knocking out power to thousands.

More than 53,000 ComEd customers in the Chicago area lost power, with suburban Maywood taking the brunt of the hit with 44,000 outages, a ComEd spokeswoman said Monday evening.

More than 43,000 customers remained without power Tuesday morning.

Despite the rotational nature of the storm cell, there was no confirmed tornado in the area, National Weather Service Meteorologist Ricky Castro said.

“It’s possible there was a tornado in the northern suburbs, but it’s not something we can conclusively say until we can a get crew to survey the area; that will likely happen Tuesday,” Castro said.

Winds gusted to 84 mph at O’Hare Airport and 69 mph at Midway Airport, Castro said. A ground stop was ordered at O’Hare by the Federal Aviation Administration.

There were also reports of hail one inch in diameter.

Thousands were jolted by Weather Service warnings sent to cellphones that read: “Take shelter now in a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor of a sturdy building. If you are outdoors, in a mobile home, or in a vehicle, move to the closest substantial shelter and protect yourself from flying debris.”

The storm moved through the northern suburbs at around 30 mph before turning southeast and increasing in speed slightly before making its way through the city around 7 p.m., Castro said.

“Warnings went out well in advance,” Castro said.

Videos posted to Twitter showed severe damage to a parking garage wall at the Toyota dealer in Lincoln Park.

Part of a wall collapsed at the Toyota of Lincoln Park dealership at 1561 N. Freemont St., but no one was injured, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman said.

The city also received numerous reports of felled trees, making some roads impassable and covering cars with branches. Accompanying damages was reported but no reports of injuries caused by the storm, the Fire Department spokesman said.

Strong winds sheared off the roof of an apartment building in west suburban Bellwood, according to CBS News Chicago.

The weather also delayed the start time for a Cubs game against the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field as fans sought shelter in the Friendly Confines.

The storms ushered in rising temperatures that are expected to rise into the 90s Tuesday and Wednesday. The city has opened its cooling centers as forecasters predict heat indexes in excess of 105 degrees.

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