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updated: 8/3/2011 10:44 AM

More widespread outages after 2 strong storms

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  • Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Lightning strikes as a storm passes through DuPage County on Tuesday night.

      Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com Lightning strikes as a storm passes through DuPage County on Tuesday night.

 
 

Yet another set of severe thunderstorms passed through the Chicago area Tuesday night causing widespread power outages, downed trees, lightning strikes, flooded streets and Metra delays on two lines, which were brought to a halt.

As of 8 a.m., 23,800 ComEd customers were without power following the two sets of storms Tuesday night, including 11,400 customers in the utility's hardest-hit northern region, due to downed power lines, said ComEd spokesman Tony Hernandez.

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He added 7,000 customers were without power in the south, 2,000 were out in the west, while 3,400 were out in the Chicago area.

In total, he said 121,000 customers have been restored overnight.

"It's really up north where this thing hit us pretty hard," ComEd spokesman Bennie Currie said Tuesday. "We wanted to make sure we were able to quickly jump on this."

The utility activated its Emergency Operations Center before the storm and had crews ready in anticipation of outages, Currie said.

"Last week we had back-to-back storms and the weekend before that back-to-back," he said. "Lots and lots of lightning strikes are hitting these trees and bringing down power lines."

Because of the outages, flashing lights are located throughout the suburbs, including along Route 59 in Aurora, Naperville, West Chicago, Bartlett, and Libertyville.

Heavy rain dropped 1.12 inches in Carol Stream in less than 45 minutes during the peak of the storm and 71 mph wind gusts were reported in Batavia, 65 mph gusts in Elmhurst and 61 mph gusts in Aurora, according to the weather service.

There were plenty of lightning strikes in the Chicago area due to the storm. One strike set a home in Naperville on fire at about 10 p.m.

Lightning reportedly struck the roof of the home in the 1100 block of Augustana Drive and did about $150,000 in damage before it was finally extinguished. No one was injured in the strike, officials said.

In addition, Streamwood fire officials said the heavy winds from the storm destroyed a building on the 1800 block of South Park Avenue. Officials said the call came in originally as a gas explosion, but the investigation revealed heavy winds blew bricks and roofing material off the structure. The wind also damaged a natural gas supply to a rooftop heating unit. Damage was estimated at $50,000.

The storms developed ahead of a cold front, after heat indexes of more than 100 degrees put the area under an excessive heat warning for most of Tuesday afternoon.

Trains on the Union Pacific North and Union Pacific Northwest Metra lines were stopped in both directions as the storm rolled through, and were up and running again as of about 7:30 p.m., said Metra spokesman Michael Gillis.

The trains on both lines were running between 30 and 90 minutes behind due to the stoppage.

"We are going to be playing catch-up for a while tonight," he said.

Airlines at O'Hare International Airport were facing delays of up to 45 minutes at of 8 p.m. due to the weather, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Midway passengers were experiencing minor delays, but they were not weather-related.

Heat indexes reached into the triple digits Tuesday, but the cold front is expected to keep temperatures in the lower 80s starting Wednesday through the weekend.

Heat indexes topped off at 105 at Northerly Island in Chicago, 101 at O'Hare International Airport and 103 in Wheeling.

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