Storm pounds area with hail, causes power outages
Sun-Times Media July 1, 2011 5:12AM
Updated: July 1, 2011 12:01PM
Violent storms pelted the area with rain and golf ball-sized hail Thursday night, leaving more than 100,000 ComEd customers without power.
The “supercell” storm hit shortly after 9 p.m. The south suburbs had about 56,000 ComEd customers without electricity. About 16,000 customers did not have power in Chicago and near west suburbs.
The severe storm collapsed part of the roof at the conference center at Illinios Beach State Park and felled trees and snapped utility poles, knocking out power in Waukegan, Beach Park, Zion and Winthrop Harbor and as far north as Racine.
Heavy damage in Beach Park included trees on houses. Blockages of Sheridan Road were reported in Waukegan, Beach Park and Kenosha. Boat damage was reported at NorthPoint Marina in Winthrop Harbor. Trees were uprooted and houses damaged in Zion.
In the broader metropolitan area, into Cook County and Chicago, similar damage and thousands of power outages were reported.
The National Weather Service said the storm moved across Lake Michigan and blew across southeastern Wisconsin before heading south.
Meteorologist Chris Kulhman said winds blew at least an estimated 70 mph — and some gusts may have hit 80 mph.
Kuhlman said the storm was offshore when high winds hit the Racine area about 7:45 p.m. Thursday. The storm kept moving south to Kenosha and eventually to Illinois and Chicago.
Some Metra Union Pacific North Line trains stopped running past the North Chicago and Highland Park stations, citing “excessive delays,” according to Metra’s Web site. Others were halted by power lines down on the tracks.
State Police reported no major accidents on the roads, though cars in downtown Chicago were spotted taking cover under overpasses to avoid the hail.
According to National Weather Service meteorologist Casey Sullivan, the storm moved south along the Lake Michigan shoreline, dumping heavy rain and golf ball- and baseball-sized hail from the Wisconsin state line to northern Indiana.
Lake County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Kent McKenzie reports trees were toppled onto buildings and power lines. He says there were numerous reports of trees damaging recreational vehicles camped at Illinois Beach State Park, north of Waukegan.
McKenzie says emergency workers freed several people trapped in an auto at the park when an uprooted tree landed on the vehicle. No one was injured.
The storm arrived ahead of a heat wave on Friday, when the weather service forecasts temperatures in the upper 90s.