Chicago weather: 4 animals die in north suburban barn collapse, other severe storm damage reported

Tornadoes leave damage behind in Portage, Michigan

Wednesday, May 8, 2024
At least 4 animals die in Harvard barn collapse; several rescued
In McHenry County, near Harvard, Ill., storms apparently caused a barn to collapse and knocked over a large tree at the roots Tuesday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Strong thunderstorms raced through the Chicago area Tuesday afternoon, leaving some damage in their wake.

A first round of storms began moving in to the western part of the Chicago area at 6:30 a.m., and then moved into the city later in the morning, bringing rain and winds.

Around 8 a.m., ground stops were issued at both O'Hare and Midway airports due to the weather. The ground stops were lifted by around 9:30 a.m.

The Storm Prediction Center upgraded the risk for much of the area late Tuesday morning. Much of the Chicago area was at a Level 2 risk and a 5% tornado risk, with Northwest Indiana at a Level 3 risk and a 10% tornado risk.

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ABC7 meteorologist Larry Mowry said storms began flaring to the west and the south of the Chicago area by 12:30 p.m., moving northeast at 50 miles per hour.

Between 1:30 and 6 p.m. strong storms brought with them a threat of tornadoes. The highest tornado threat was to the southeast of the city, especially in Northwest Indiana.

On Chicago's Far South Side, the inbound lanes of I-57 at Parnell Avenue were blocked for a time by flooding, the Illinois Department of Transportation said. All lanes were back open by about 5 p.m.

Illinois State Police said three cars were stuck in flooded waters at 99th Street on the same stretch of inbound I-57, but no other issues were reported.

Storm damage reported in suburbs; barn collapses in Harvard, Ill.

A storm tore through Chicago's southwest suburbs, dunking buckets of quarter sized hail over Palos Heights.

"I got skylights on the house and it was just cracking against the glass there. It was pretty loud," said Palos Heights resident Scott Allen.

The fast-moving storms left damage in their wake, especially from the heavy downpour of large hail. There were also reports of some road flooding in Joliet and in Orland Park, where Cook County officials said some roads were closed.

Most storms lasted less than half an hour, sometimes even less than 10 minutes, as they raced through, but they brought intense downpours of large hail in areas like Palos Heights. The hail ripped down the leaves of newly-bloomed trees, and the strong winds in some cases knocked down branches.

Some trees were uprooted, and backyard equipment like trampolines twisted and overturned, but more serious damage and power outages were not reported.

In McHenry County, near Harvard, Ill., the storms apparently caused a barn to collapse and knocked over a large tree at the roots. It was not known how many animals, who lived on the lower level of the two-story, century-old barn, were inside when it collapsed, but the way it did created a void on the lower level that allowed nearly all the animals inside to survive. Harvard fire officials said firefighters were able to rescue 24 sheep, 18 goats, one cow, and multiple chickens and ducks.

"Just debris on top of them. They found spaces within the collapse they were kind of hiding under," Harvard Fire Department Chief John Kimmel. "Straight-line winds is what we're assuming, because there was debris several hundred yards away."

Four animals were confirmed to have died in the collapse, and two more are unaccounted for. No human injuries were reported.

"It started hailing really hard. It got dark and within a minute it was gone," said neighbor Mary Stefely.

There were reports of inch to inch-and-a-half-sized hail in the south suburbs, which is roughly the size of a ping pong ball.

Storm downs large tree in Porter, Indiana

Rain-saturated ground and high-force winds were enough for the decades-old tangled tree root system to give way.

Meanwhile, as the power started to buzz back to life in Porter, Indiana on Tuesday evening, the spotty extent of the most severe damage became clear. The afternoon spring storm there was short and mighty.

"We're just getting ready to panic to go to the basement and it stopped so fast. But the damage had been done," said Porter resident Joanne Tubbs.

In the silence of the storm's wake, Tubbs cautiously emerged from her home, carefully turning the corner and surveying the lot. A towering tree, easily four stories tall, had collapsed, merely clipping the gutters and a fraction of the roof.

"When I looked out the window, I just saw this branch and then I come out and I see all this, and it kept going, and I could not believe it. It's scary," Tubbs said. "God was so good. It went right between the house and the garage."

The combination of the rain-saturated ground and high-force winds were enough for the decades-old tangled tree root system to give way, taking a good 6-foot chunk with it and leaving a steep hole behind.

Tornadoes leave damage behind in Portage, Michigan

A FedEx shipping center sustained heavy damage, with much of the roof torn off, and part of the exterior wall collapsed.

And in Michigan, the rain and winds whipped violently as multiple tornadoes hit the Portage area on Tuesday.

A FedEx shipping center sustained heavy damage, with much of the roof torn off, and part of the exterior wall collapsed. Emergency officials said an estimated 50 people were trapped inside.

FedEx later told ABC News that all of their team members are safe and accounted for and no serious injuries were reported.

Elsewhere in that area, others were pinned in by downed power lines. Residents were left shaken by the damage, but the mayor of Portage said there were no injuries on Tuesday night.

"Listen, just, and don't think it won't happen here, but it can happen anywhere to anybody. In our community, they're all older people and they all stayed in their homes," one resident said.

With debris across the region, the Portage Department of Public Safety asked people to stay away.

One man expressed gratitude in the face of destruction.

"We're not in the position of these people here. Everything is gone. At least we can go in, take things out, wait for the insurance," he said.

More than 21,000 people in the Portage area lost their power.


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