Derecho topples Wheaton church steeple, causes other damage across suburbs
A rare derecho -- described as an "inland hurricane" -- swept through the suburbs Monday, causing widespread property damage and leaving tens of thousands without power.
Some of the most dramatic damage was sustained by the iconic white steeple atop College Church in Wheaton.
"It's hanging off of the building," church spokesman Wil Triggs said. But no one was hurt, he said.
The church was founded 150 years ago, and the steeple was put up in the early 1980s. Church officials are taking stock of the damage to the structure at Seminary Avenue and Washington Street.
Though it's next to Wheaton College, the congregation is not affiliated with the school.
At Wheaton College, some tree limbs were torn off, but no buildings sustained any real damage on campus, school spokesman Joseph Moore said.
ComEd said more than 117,000 customers were without power in its service area as of 5 p.m., ABC 7 reported on its website.
Lincolnshire police reported Milwaukee Avenue was closed from Route 22 to Olde Half Day Road due to a downed power line. ComEd told police the road could be closed until about 10 p.m. Monday night.
In Carpentersville, fire crews responded to 14 reports of downed power lines, one of which was believed to have sparked a detached garage fire on the 100 block of Golfview Lane, Police Chief Michael Kilbourne said. The blaze was extinguished quickly, he said, though it did damage the property.
On the 3000 block of Wakefield Drive, the storm caused a tree to fall into a house, hitting the roof and leaving the structure uninhabitable, Kilbourne said. No injuries were reported in either situation.
In Rosemont, a power line went down on the shoulder of the southbound River Road on-ramp to the I-190 Kennedy Expressway.
Lake County authorities reported trees and wires were down on Ela Road north of Lake-Cook Road in Deer Park, on Grass Lake Road east of Route 59 in Fox Lake, on Cuba Road east of Route 14 in Barrington, and on sections of Route 83 in Lake Villa, Grayslake and Buffalo Grove.
And a falling tree crushed an SUV in an unincorporated area near Lake Villa.
"This is our version of a hurricane," Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini said in an Associated Press interview from his home about 15 minutes before the storm was about to hit. Minutes later he headed to his basement for safety as the storm took aim at the suburbs.
Gensini said this derecho will go down as one of the strongest ones in recent history and be one of the worst weather events of 2020 for the nation.
The storm lasted several hours as it tore from eastern Nebraska to Iowa and then to Wisconsin and Illinois. The National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 92 mph near Dixon.
Although a derecho is described as an inland hurricane, it has no eye and its winds come across in a line. But the damage it is likely to do is more similar to the widespread devastation caused by a hurricane than by a quick, more powerful tornado, according to Patrick Marsh, science support chief at the National Weather Service's Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
• Daily Herald staff writers Russell Lissau and Katlyn Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.