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Tornadoes Slam Chicago Metro, O’Hare Airport Shelters Hundreds

Multiple tornadoes cause extensive damage, flight disruptions in Chicago; O'Hare International Airport takes precautions.

CHICAGO — A storm system spawned multiple tornadoes across the Chicago metro area on Wednesday evening, which prompted hundreds of passengers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport to seek shelter. The twisters caused extensive damage to homes and businesses.

“A large and extremely dangerous” tornado touched down in Summit, Illinois, and was moving toward Chicago. Summit is located 10 miles southwest of downtown Chicago,” said the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Chicago just before 6.30 p.m.

About 30 minutes later, the NWS confirmed a tornado had touched down near Chicago O’Hare International Airport. The agency warned the tornado was intermittently touching the ground and additional circulations were possible.

As the tornado neared O’Hare International Airport, hundreds of passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and airport staff crowded into the lowest level of the airport for shelter.” At least 172 flights were canceled, and more than 550 departing and arriving flights were delayed from O’Hare on Wednesday,” said FlightAware.

A video shared on Twitter showed just how close the powerful tornado came to the airport on Wednesday. The giant spiraling vortex could be seen spinning in the distance as planes waited at the airport gates.

Damage is seen to the Sinnott Tree Service building after a tornado touched down Wednesday evening near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport on 12th July 2023. NAM Y HUH/AP

The Director of Communications at O’Hare and Midway Kevin Bargnes told WGN9 that there was no damage from the tornado at either airport.

For those who lived in downtown Chicago, the tornado sirens created an eerie scene on Wednesday evening. Many who live in high-rise apartment buildings were worried about where they could quickly find shelter.

“I’m in a 60-story apartment building, so my options are somewhat limited,”said a longtime Chicago resident Lynn Becker to The Associated Press. “We have to, I assume, go into the core of the building.”

Although the total number of tornadoes on Wednesday has yet to be confirmed, the damage remains clear.

In Elgin County, located about 34 miles northwest of Chicago, at least 20 to 30 homes sustained significant damage from the tornadoes on Wednesday, NCBS Chicago reported.

Among the additional storm reports, damage was reported to several barns and roofs, and multiple trees and power lines were reported down. According to the Storm Prediction Center, a warehouse located near O’Hare International Airport also sustained damage.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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