CHICAGO (WLS) -- Severe storms produced reported tornadoes as they ripped through the Chicago area Monday afternoon and evening.
After conducting damage surveys, the National Weather Service confirmed at least seven tornadoes touched down in northern Illinois.
The preliminary ratings for the storms are as follows:
-North of Esmond: EF-0
-South of Kirkland: EF-Unknown
-South of Esmond: EF-0
-Paw Paw: EF-Unknown
-Sycamore to Virgil: EF-1
People living in the area could see the tornado coming from miles away. The churning winds destroyed everything in its path as it touched down.
"I was standing in the backyard and all of a sudden, I saw some swirling, like swirling rain, and I thought, 'What is that?' It kept swirling. I didn't expect a tornado," resident Dennis Owens said.
There is scattered damage throughout a wide area spanning De Kalb County to Lee to parts of DuPage. It was a difficult night for many residents of those areas. Ken Evans was fortunate that he and his wife and dog were able to get to safety in the basement before the storm ripped through their property, destroying three buildings, including the garage that houses his collection of vintage cars.
"I saw a tornado leaving all of my building was gone, my cars all smashed to heck and my brand new truck with a trailer on top of it," Evans said.
It was a similar sight at a home in Burlington, where the roof of a home was destroyed, with debris left everywhere. ComEd crews were out seemingly everywhere in the area, restoring power lines brought down by the high winds.
Storm spotters in Kane County reported a brief tornado near Campton Hills just before 7 p.m. and another weak tornado near Lily Lake 6:44 p.m.
Kane County authorities also reported possible tornado damage to a structure along Plank Road near Eagle Road near Burlington. There was heavy damage to homes apparent.
"There's too much to digest to be honest with you," said Greg Kmieciak, whose home was damaged. "I really haven't even got a chance... I haven't even looked at my property, to be honest with you."
Kmieciak wasn't home when the storm hit, but his wife was.
"She called me up and she says, 'I think our house has been tornado'd?'" he recalled. "And I go, 'Really.'"
Thankfully, she wasn't hurt as fierce winds took apart their roof.
"My oldest son who lives in Sycamore called her and said, 'Are you in the basement,' and she said no. He said, 'Get down to the basement now,' and so luckily she listened to him," Kmieciak said.
Among the other damage in the area was an obliterated shed and damage to structures on a farm, and a massive half-century-old tree uprooted. The owner barely made it to safety.
"He was trying to close up, you know, batten down the hatches, trying to close up his garage doors," said Jake Stamper, friend. "He kind of got caught up in the middle of it."
But he is OK.
Kmieciak's home of 25 years is now considered unsafe, but he knows it could have been much worse.
"Bottom line, my wife is safe. That's all I care about," he said. "The rest of this stuff can be fixed, can be replaced."
At 6:17 p.m., the National Weather Service said a confirmed tornado was located near Sycamore, moving east at 25 mph. Storm chaser video showed a tornado touching down and causing significant damage to a house and barn, ABC7 meteorologist Phil Schwarz said.
Authorities in Ogle County said a funnel cloud was sighted two miles south of Kirkland.
In McHenry County, the storms ripped part of a roof from a townhouse and blew over a portion of a fence.
The storms even prompted the air traffic control tower at O'Hare International Airport to be evacuated for about 20 minutes as severe weather passed through, the FAA said. During that time, an Elgin-based facility assumed control of the airspace for the tower.
This time last year, a rare wind storm, known as a derecho, swept through the Midwest, causing $7.5 billion in damage across Iowa, Illinois Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana.