Chicago weather: Tornado touchdowns reported in Chicago suburbs, also reported near O'Hare

O'Hare, Midway resume normal operations after storms

ByABC7 Eyewitness News Team Coverage WLS logo
Wednesday, July 12, 2023
An apparent tornado touchdown in Countryside, Ill., left uprooted trees, damaged homes and downed power lines in its wake.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Many are cleaning up after tornadoes and strong storms moved through the Chicago area Wednesday evening, sparking strings of warnings and producing multiple funnel clouds and confirmed touchdowns.

While the storms were powerful, the speed of their movement and what appear to be short bursts of tornado touchdowns resulted in no reports of serious injuries and damage that was often concentrated in single neighborhoods or just one part of a town or village.

The National Weather Service confirmed multiple tornado touchdowns in Campton Hills, Countryside, Hodgkins and Huntley. The NWS also said a tornado touched down near O'Hare. A confirmed tornado was on the ground around 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Chicago, which they described as "touching the ground intermittently so far and is moving east."

A total of eight tornadoes were reported, along with one report of a funnel cloud. The NWS will send surveyors out to those sites to assess the veracity of the reports and the strength of any tornadoes.

Among the storm damage in Huntley were apartment buildings suddenly missing their roofs, displacing eight families.

In Huntley, two apartment buildings in the Bakely subdivision were badly damaged, one losing its roof to an apparent tornado. Each building holds four units, meaning eight families were displaced by the damage, but fire officials said no injuries were reported.

"It was heart-racing. It was just a lot. We were standing there and then all of a sudden everything is literally going in circles. Rain, trees, wind," said resident Tracy Pelka.

Huntley Battalion Chief Mike Pierce said firefighters and other emergency services were responding to downed power lines, trees and tree branches, and power outages had been reported.

Building damage appeared concentrated to area near the Bakely subdivision. Pierce said the tornado sirens did sound as the storm bore down.

Anyone in need of assistance, including the people in the damaged homes, can meet with the Red Cross at the village hall, Pierce said.

A Menards shopping center bore the brunt of the tornado damage in Hodgkins, where flying debris damaged cars but no injuries were reported.

In at the Menards in Hodgkins, high winds blew the roof off a shopping cart docking station and into a pickup truck. The owner said his girlfriend, who works at the store, called him when the weather cleared and when he arrived he found the damage.

"It is what it is," said truck owner Jason Wojcicki. "At least everybody is all OK, that's how I looked at it. This is replaceable. People aren't."

Hodgkins police said the majority of the damage was on the north end of the village at the Menards shopping center and along Lenzi Avenue. Police said some of the debris in the Menards parking lot came from a lumber yard hundreds of yards away.

Emergency management crews are now working to clean up the aftermath of the storms.

An apparent tornado touchdown in Countryside, Ill., left uprooted trees, damaged homes and downed power lines in its wake.

In Countryside, in a neighborhood off Hillsdale Road, there was tremendous tree and landscaping damage, and some damage to homes.

"The winds kicked up really hard and really fast and we're like 'Basement now. Grab the dog, let's go.' It was a couple of seconds after that it got really crazy," said resident Hillary Timpe.

"It was pretty terrifying but we've already checked in with everybody and everyone seems to be OK," Greg Timpe said.

One house had its roof partially blown off and the garage collapsed. Neighbors said the woman who lives in the home was taken to a local hospital to be treated for shock, but she did not appear to be physically injured.

"I put the roof on her house years ago and now I feel terrible," said 2nd Ward Alderman John Von Drasek.

Most of the homes seemed to be largely untouched. Some had damaged roofs, broken windows or torn siding.

"She's shook up but she's okay," said Debbie Taylor, whose 95-year-old mother was home alone at the time of the storm. "She was in the house by herself but she's doing great. Most of the neighbors have lived here 60 years, a lot of them. And one of the girls down the street that I grew up with came and said she saw my mom's house."

The family-owned Skyline Motel in McCook will have to be rebuilt from the ground up after Wednesday afternoon's storms.

The family-run Skyline Motel in McCook was heavily damaged by the storms, leaving multiple families searching for a new place to stay. The garage was blown apart, the roof above the first floor was torn away, and multiple power lines are down around the motel.

The family is now left to rebuild.

"Abrupt burst of wind, loud thunder, the whole room was shaking," said resident Ty Carr. "Power lines fell down and they were sparking everywhere. It was crazy chaos and it was abrupt."

"I just got a phone call from the hotel saying, 'Hey Eddie get back here because the roof is blowing off,'" said resident Eddie Morales.

"It's all gone. The entire place is ruined," said Rajan Patel, whose family owns the Skyline Motel. "I don't even know."

Power lines were popping around the motel and there are reports of more downed power lines across the area. ComeEd crews have been deployed in McCook to look for which wires are live and which are not.

North of Campton Hills, residents of Plato Center are cleaning up after a tornado touchdown.

Just north of Campton Hills, a tornado tore through part of Plato Center with destructive force. As residents stare down the cleanup, they are grateful that there have not yet been any reports of injuries.

"We went outside because it was raining super hard and then all of a sudden, everything started blowing all the umbrellas, the tables. And so we went inside for a minute and then we went back outside and started taking a video because we said there's a tornado," said Clair Kruse.

Right across the street, Kruse's neighbor's home was and yard were devastated. Virtually every tree was toppled or shredded. Homeowner Patrick Coursey and his daughter barely escaped.

"Me and my daughter were over at the grill cooking. And all of a sudden we both looked at each other and said what was happening? And it sounded like a freight train. And all of a sudden, it started to get really windy and we ran from there to there. And trees are flying everywhere," he said.

Even where there weren't tornadoes, Wednesday's strong storms left dmaage in their wake.

"The table was moving, the branches are flying. Things were hitting the windows and everything. We were trying to close the doors and try to get downstairs as fast as we could," said his daughter Sarah Coursey.

Some residents said they heard no sirens. The wind took down power lines, plunging the neighborhood into darkness. Streets are shut down for safety.

In their neighborhood, the Normans appeared to have absorbed the brunt of the damage; their garage is demolished, their yard now devoid of nearly all 60 trees they had planted.

"My phone went off, the alarm says tornado and as soon as it said that I said we need to get in the basement because the wind it was raining, the wind picked up so fast by the time we got to the basement step door, you could hear everything hitting. It sounded horrible," Mike Norman said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report