Chicago Weather: Downpours help clear out air quality; severe storms, damage reported downstate

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Friday, June 30, 2023
Major storm damage reported in Central Illinois
Rain and storms moved through the Chicago area Thursday, though more severe storm damage is being reported downstate near Champaign and Springfield.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Rain and storms moved through the Chicago area, primarily to the south and into Northwest Indiana Thursday, though more severe storm damage is being reported downstate near Champaign and Springfield.

Some isolated storms moved through the area early Thursday morning, and an afternoon system sparked alerts, but severe storms by and large did not materialize in the Chicago area.

Illinois State Police reported several rolled over semitrailers on southbound Interstate 57 downstate due to heavy winds in the afternoon and early evening. Some minor injuries were reported.

The storms came as air quality levels in the area remain at unhealthy levels.

Massive storm plows through Midwest, clearing out smoke with hurricane-force wind gusts

Powerful thunderstorms raced through parts of the Midwest, blowing out the harmful smoke from Canadian wildfires.

The storm system referred to as a bow echo because of its arc-like appearance on radar has a history of producing wind gusts close to 90 mph and has knocked the power out for thousands.

A wind gust of 88 mph was reported in western Illinois early Thursday afternoon. More than 200,000 customers were without power in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana, reported.

The bow-echo thunderstorm complex appeared to meet the definition of a derecho: a destructive arc of thunderstorms characterized by dangerous, widespread winds. The straight-line winds in these weather phenomena can be just as devastating as tornadoes.

A derecho must maintain a path of wind damage that is 60 miles wide and 400 miles long, while also producing wind gusts of 58 mph or greater along most of its length.

As the storm plowed through Illinois, it cleared out some of the harmful wildfire smoke that has prompted air quality alerts for more than a third of the US population this week. Air pollution readings for small particulate matter - or PM 2.5, a hazardous air pollutant - dropped significantly behind the storm.

The air quality index in Champaign, Illinois, dropped from around 180, or "unhealthy," on Thursday morning to just 1 after the storm blew through.

There were also reports of storm damage in the areas of Champaign and Bloomington.

CNN Wire contributed to this report

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