Chicago Weather: Severe storm cleanup across Chicago area; Grayslake hit by tornado

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015
Grayslake hit by EF-1 tornado, NWS says
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down in Grayslake on Sunday night.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Crews are working to clear fallen trees and downed power lines in the city and suburbs after heavy storms swept through the area. The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado touched down in Lake County.


A funnel cloud was spotted around 9 p.m. Sunday in Grayslake. NWS said a preliminary survey finds that the EF-1 tornado was on the ground for 7.5 miles. The tornado's track began in Round Lake, continued through Hainesville and Grayslake, and ended in Wildwood. Winds of between 90 to 100 mph were recorded. The maximum width of the tornado's track was around 300 yards.

This was the first tornado to hit Lake County since 2002.

"All of a sudden whish, whish. Then everybody hit the floor," Johnny Scott said.

PHOTOS: Chicago area storm damage

Several roofs were damaged, including that of Grayslake Central High School, where the dugout was blown across the street and field equipment was tossed around. Part of the school's roof landed in the choir teacher's front yard.

"As you can see, our wonderful tree caught it," Jenny White said. "So I want to keep this tree. I love this tree. I hope we can save it. It saved us."

No one was injured in Grayslake, but there was property damage.

"Everybody was concerned that the tree would fall into the house. But God was merciful, and you saw all the branches that did break," Loretha Scott said. Next door, Jeffrey Goldsmith's vehicles were damaged.

"Three or four vehicles were dented and wiped out a bunch of trees torn off, thrown over here," Goldsmith said. "It's just terrible.

"Stuff was flying in the air. A car was very shaken, very badly, trying to hold on to that thing. Barricades from construction were flying in the air. And no sooner had it started than it stopped," Sgt. Scott Heimus, Grayslake Police Department, said.

"By the time everything was over, I came out, and the tree that was two feet from the sunroom was totally uprooted," Theresa Talbert, resident, said.

The storms cut a four to five mile path of destruction and damaged about half a dozen buildings from Round Lake to Wildwood.

"We've had sirens go off many times before. And you never think it's going to be as bad as it is. This is terrible," Alison Dalton said.

A new skate park was also tossed around, landing near the swimming pool across the street.

"I thought these were really planted in the ground, but apparently they're not. It must have been really strong to move all these big ramps," Michael Knapik said.

Despite the damage, the school plans to open on time next week.

In nearby Round Lake, a popular restaurant was destroyed and several homes were damaged. But no one was injured.


No one was injured in Chicago, but the storms uprooted trees in Rogers Park and Edgewater on the city's North Side.

"The tree coming down, the damage from that, is moderate to extensive. It'll take a while for them to clean this up," Dick Thomas said.

More than 500 calls were made to 911, city officials said, during the storm.

"We remove the trees from property, meaning it's on your property, on your house, your business. We also clear the streets. Once we do that, we move on to things like this one, that is partially blocking the street," Commissioner Charles Williams, Chicago Streets and Sanitation, said.

Hail damage was also reported.

"I have about six holes about this big in a bunch of my screens from hail ripping through them. I've never had that happen before," Beth Jones said.


At the height of the storm, about 120,000 ComEd customers were without power.

As of 9 p.m., about 3,600 people remain without power, mainly in Lake County, and will be restored once crews have safely secured the downed trees. ComEd set up a mobile unit in Grayslake to help customers and make sure crews are ready to go to areas as soon as they're given the OK.


The final day of Lollapalooza, one of Chicago's biggest music festivals, ended about 30 minutes early because of severe weather. A few of Sunday's final acts, including Florence and the Machine, had to shorten their performances.

"It's better to be safe than sorry. And they made a call. And they did it appropriately. And the good news is we, obviously, on the 11th year Lollapalooza, and they practice for emergencies, weather-related. And they were prepared," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Grant Park was briefly evacuated Sunday afternoon due to approaching storms. Lollapalooza artists returned to the stage around 4 p.m.