Visitors and employees hunkered down Thursday afternoon in the Lake County Building in downtown Waukegan because of waterspouts on nearby Lake Michigan, but weather officials said there never was a threat to land.
National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Nelson said an official observer based at Kenosha Regional Airport made the first water spout report at 1:35 p.m. Nelson said the spouts tracked south and southeast from the Kenosha area on Lake Michigan and were 3 to 4 miles from shore.
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"There was no real threat to land," Nelson said.
However, the Lake County Building in downtown Waukegan was locked down for about 30 minutes because of the waterspouts.
Visitors and employees were forced to remain in windowless courtrooms and offices while waiting for an all clear. Hallways -- especially on the east side of the building that faces Lake Michigan -- were completely shut down.
"It was very eerie to ... go on lock down like that," said Jackie Fagan, who works in the building. "It was really unsettling."
National Weather Service officials said a shower and thunderstorm east of Winthrop Harbor produced the waterspouts that were seen on Lake Michigan from Waukegan. A special marine warning was issued Thursday afternoon that noted waterspouts were expected in open water from Wilmette Harbor to Michigan City,
Officials said waterspouts should be reported immediately to the U.S. Coast Guard. They said shelter should be sought immediately if a spout moves on shore.