Maintenance crews restored power to tens of thousands of homes overnight after severe thunderstorms in the Chicago region brought powerful winds and reports of funnel clouds Wednesday evening.
By 11:30 a.m., of the more than 78,000 customers affected by the storms, only about 3,500 remained without power, according to ComEd.Funnel clouds were reported during the storm in Lee County and near Rockford and National Weather Service personnel were heading out to affected areas today to survey damage and try to determine if tornadoes touched down. The wind and heavy rain caused traffic and commuter train problems, and some tree and power line damage was reported although the power outages have been relatively few.
Law enforcement reported tree and power line damage in the area of Shabbona and Sleepy Hollow Roads in DeKalb County, possibly due to a tornado touchdown, but that has not been confirmed, according to the National Weather Service.
Similar damage, along with some damage to boats, was reported at Shabbona Lake State Park.
Funnel clouds were reported west of Chicago. The National Weather Service said a spotter had called in to report a tornado touching the ground near Somonauk, but the service was unable to confirm the report.Aurora activated the city's severe weather sirens due to a tornado warning issued for Kendall County, but there have been no tornadoes spotted within the city limits, a city spokesman said about 5:40 p.m.
The area saw heavy rain, some hail and lots of lightning and thunder, with the Aurora Fire Department responding to two calls of apparent lightning strikes on electrical transformers. There were no fires to any structures, said Dan Ferrelli, city spokesman.
All inbound and outbound trains on Metra’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific lines were temporarily halted about 5:30 p.m. due to the severe weather, along with some stoppages on other service, according to a Metra spokesman.
Of Metra’s 11 train lines, eight were moving again by a little before 7 p.m. Trains on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe line had resumed service around 6 p.m. after being halted due to safety concerns earlier in the evening.
Trains on the Union Pacific lines remained stopped from about 5:30 p.m. until about 7:05 p.m., said Metra spokesman Tom Miller, but all service had resumed after that time. Delays were spread throughout the system.
“Stuck stopped on the train right now,” Colin Ogden of Normal, Ill., wrote Wednesday evening on Twitter. “This is unreal!!! Doesn't metra know the Hawks play tonight!!!”
Lightning was the suspected cause of a Lemont house fire this evening, said Lemont Fire Chief Carl Churulo.
Fire crews battled the fire on the second story of the house in the 16400 block of Alba at about 6 p.m., Churulo said.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said Wednesday night that there were, surprisingly, no instances of lightning-induced fires in the city. The department also wasn't yet aware of any downed trees or other damage caused by the storm.
“We were prepared for more, we thought there would be more,” Langford said.
Much of the Chicago area saw brief episodes of hail, especially in Kane and Kendall counties, with the size described as being from nickel-sized to golfball-sized.
A flood watch is in effect for Chicagoland from 4 p.m. through late Wednesday night.