Tornado touches down near Chicago’s O’Hare airport, disrupting hundreds of flights

by Chloe Baker
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A tornado made landfall near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Wednesday evening, resulting in the disruption of numerous flights and prompting passengers to seek shelter. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

According to the National Weather Service in Chicago, a confirmed tornado touched down around 7 p.m. The tornado intermittently touched the ground while moving eastward, and additional circulations were observed south of O’Hare. The Weather Service advised individuals within the warned area to find shelter.

By 8 p.m., the weather service declared the Chicago forecast area to be free of tornado warnings. However, the storm continued to move eastward toward Michigan, where tornado warnings were subsequently issued.

Television footage displayed hundreds of people taking refuge in an O’Hare concourse. FlightAware, a flight tracking service, reported the cancellation of 169 flights and delays for nearly 500 flights.

On Wednesday evening, the National Weather Service issued two tornado warnings for specific sections of the city. Tornado sirens were activated multiple times across Chicago, urging residents to seek cover and resonating throughout the city’s buildings.

Lynn Becker, a long-time Chicago resident, posted a video on Twitter featuring the blaring sirens against the backdrop of the city’s iconic skyline.

“As I live in a 60-story apartment building, my options for seeking shelter are somewhat limited,” he stated. “I assume we need to retreat to the innermost part of the building.”

Becker mentioned that news of the storm received extensive coverage in local media. He also expressed hope that the damage caused by the tornado would be minimal despite the alarming visuals displayed on TV screens.

Local news sources reported damage to warehouses near O’Hare. The National Weather Service quoted an unidentified emergency manager, who revealed that a roof had been blown off in Huntley, located in McHenry County. A trained weather spotter in Cook County, where Chicago is situated, reported uprooted trees and roofs blown off.

Earlier in the day, the Storm Prediction Center of the weather service had warned of an enhanced risk of severe weather, including tornadoes, in northern Illinois, including Chicago.

The Chicago metropolitan area has experienced numerous tornadoes, with several striking within the city limits, as documented by the National Weather Service. From 1855 to 2021, the weather service recorded 97 significant tornadoes in the Chicago metro area.

The deadliest tornado occurred on April 21, 1967, in Palos Hills, Cook County. Traveling 16 miles (26 kilometers) through Oak Lawn and the south side of Chicago, it claimed the lives of 33 people, injured 500 individuals, and caused over $50 million in damages, according to the weather service.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about tornado

What happened near O’Hare Airport in Chicago?

A tornado touched down near O’Hare International Airport, disrupting hundreds of flights and prompting passengers to take shelter.

Were there any injuries reported?

No, there were no immediate reports of injuries resulting from the tornado.

What did the National Weather Service say about the tornado?

The National Weather Service in Chicago confirmed the tornado’s presence on the ground around 7 p.m. They advised people in the warned area to seek shelter as the tornado moved eastward intermittently.

How many flights were affected by the tornado?

Approximately 169 flights were canceled and nearly 500 flights were delayed due to the tornado’s impact near O’Hare Airport.

Were there any other tornado warnings issued?

Yes, the National Weather Service issued two tornado warnings for portions of the city, and tornado sirens were sounded across Chicago, alerting residents to take cover.

Has Chicago experienced tornadoes before?

Yes, Chicago and its metropolitan area have seen numerous tornadoes over the years. The National Weather Service recorded 97 significant tornadoes in the Chicago metro area between 1855 and 2021.

What was the deadliest tornado in Chicago’s history?

The deadliest tornado in Chicago’s history occurred on April 21, 1967, in Palos Hills, Cook County. It resulted in the loss of 33 lives, injured 500 people, and caused extensive damage, with a total cost exceeding $50 million.

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