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posted: 7/2/2012 7:48 AM

Severe storms hit the suburbs; thousands lose power

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  • Josh Wilson, Christopher Bryant and Willy Foster check out the damage in Winfield on Sunday after storms rolled through DuPage County, bringing strong winds that knocked down chimneys of several homes.

       Josh Wilson, Christopher Bryant and Willy Foster check out the damage in Winfield on Sunday after storms rolled through DuPage County, bringing strong winds that knocked down chimneys of several homes.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Strong winds generated by storms that rolled through the suburbs Sunday knocked down chimneys of several Winfield homes. Gusts of more than 60 mph were reported in some areas.

       Strong winds generated by storms that rolled through the suburbs Sunday knocked down chimneys of several Winfield homes. Gusts of more than 60 mph were reported in some areas.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Mike and Julie Malone inspect the damage from a tree knocked over in front of their Winfield home Sunday afternoon. Heavy storms moved through the suburbs Sunday, downing trees and power lines and leaving more than 200,000 ComEd customers without electricity.

       Mike and Julie Malone inspect the damage from a tree knocked over in front of their Winfield home Sunday afternoon. Heavy storms moved through the suburbs Sunday, downing trees and power lines and leaving more than 200,000 ComEd customers without electricity.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Bill Mein and Chase Wehle clear storm drains in the parking lot of a strip mall at the intersection of Geneva and County Farm Road in Winfield after an afternoon storm rolled through the western suburbs Sunday.

       Bill Mein and Chase Wehle clear storm drains in the parking lot of a strip mall at the intersection of Geneva and County Farm Road in Winfield after an afternoon storm rolled through the western suburbs Sunday.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Randy Norback clears a downed tree in front of his Winfield home after an afternoon storm rolled through DuPage County on Sunday, leaving more than 190,000 ComEd customers without power.

       Randy Norback clears a downed tree in front of his Winfield home after an afternoon storm rolled through DuPage County on Sunday, leaving more than 190,000 ComEd customers without power.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • The backyard of the Roloff family in unincorporated DuPage County near Wheaton suffered severe storm damage Sunday afternoon.

       The backyard of the Roloff family in unincorporated DuPage County near Wheaton suffered severe storm damage Sunday afternoon.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Cars drive through some water along Naperville Road in Wheaton after an afternoon storm rolled through the suburbs. DuPage County was the hardest hit.

       Cars drive through some water along Naperville Road in Wheaton after an afternoon storm rolled through the suburbs. DuPage County was the hardest hit.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • A fallen tree blocks drivers Sunday on La Fox Street near Woodridge Circle in South Elgin. Powerful storms knocked down trees and cut off power to hundreds of thousands across the suburbs.

       A fallen tree blocks drivers Sunday on La Fox Street near Woodridge Circle in South Elgin. Powerful storms knocked down trees and cut off power to hundreds of thousands across the suburbs.
    Christian Gossin | Staff Photographer

  • A fallen tree blocks drivers on La Fox Street near Woodridge Circle in South Elgin Sunday, after strong thunderstorms brought high winds and heavy rain.

       A fallen tree blocks drivers on La Fox Street near Woodridge Circle in South Elgin Sunday, after strong thunderstorms brought high winds and heavy rain.
    Christian Gossin | Staff Photographer

 
 

Severe thunderstorms clobbered parts of the Chicago area Sunday afternoon, knocking over trees, damaging homes and knocking out power to more than 250,000 ComEd customers.

But, with hot weather and brutal heat indexes scheduled to move in this week, authorities are warning people to somehow remain cool despite power remaining out throughout the western suburbs of Chicago.

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ComEd officials said, as of 7 a.m., 73,000 people remain without power in the northern region, which includes the western suburbs of Kane and DuPage County. They added 23,000 customers remain without power in Chicago, though said most of those customers are located in the Maywood area. In addition, 2,000 customers remain out in the southern region and 3,00 remain out in the western region.

Simultaneously, meteorologists are expecting temperatures to reach the mid-90s all week, with heat indexes reaching a feels like temperature of more than 100 degrees all week.

Meteorologist Richard Castro said relief isn't scheduled to be felt until Saturday night or Sunday morning, when temperatures dip back to normal.

The western suburbs, and DuPage County in particular, were hit hardest by gusting winds that blew the roofs off multiple structures Sunday.

The National Weather Service reported wind gusts 82 mph in Addison at about 12:30 p.m., and at about the same time a portion of an industrial building's roof was torn off causing a hazardous material leak.

The falling roof ruptured a tank containing anhydrous ammonia, a dangerous liquefied gas, which was outside the building at 530 Westgate Drive, said Addison Fire Batallion Chief Roy Charvat.

A mutual aid hazardous materials response brough crews from a number of neighboring fire departments to assist Addison firefighters, and as of about 8 p.m., some personnel remained at the scene.

About 10 more roofs in Addison were also damaged during the storm, but there were no reported injuries, Charvat said.

ComEd increased its staffing due to the storm damage, and had 360 crews in the field as of 4:30 p.m. Sunday, said spokesman Tony Hernandez. He did not have an estimate as to when power would be fully restored.

Delnor Hospital in Geneva lost power at about 4:30 p.m. but was able to continue normal operations while running on backup generators.

"We have backup plans in place," said Christopher King, a Delnor spokesman. "We had sufficient power during that time, so there were no issues."

The storm included quarter-sized hail in Glen Ellyn and Aurora and wind gusts of 75 mph in West Chicago, 70 mph in St. Charles and 80 mph in Carol Stream, according to National Weather Service reports.

West Chicago Fire Chief Robert Hodge said his department was busy throughout the day responding to calls of downed trees and power lines. He said the storm also appeared to be responsible for a house fire on the 300 block of Dayton. The fire caused significant damage to the house, he said, but no injuries were reported.

Hodge cautioned residents trying to clear trees or branches from their property, as power lines could be buried underneath.

"At this point, we don't know which lines are live and which aren't, so residents should make sure there aren't any power lines present when they begin to move trees and debris," he said.

Near Roselle, resident Marie Piraino said a huge tree in back of her house was completely uprooted by the storm.

"It looks like someone pulled a carrot out of the ground," she said. "I've never seen anything like it. There's a hole five or six feet deep where the tree used to stand."

The strong winds also damaged a number of tents and many artists work at the annual Hoffman Estates Arts and Crafts Fair.

Naperville, meanwhile, suffered very little damage from the storm, authorities said. Activities at Ribfest, Naperville's annual summer festival, had to be moved indoors for a short time in the early afternoon when a storm front moved through. By 4 p.m., all activities were operating normally, Naperville fire Capt. Paul Martin said.

Batavia High School's cafeteria was opened as a cooling center Sunday until about 9 p.m. as the city dealt with extensive outages and will be opened again at 8 a.m. Monday if necessary.

ComEd officials are cautioning anyone who comes across a downed power line to assume that it's live and call the utility immediately at 1-800-EDISON1.

The National Weather Service reports that additional storms could flare up Sunday night and into Monday.

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