Chicago weather: High Wind Warning in effect through Thursday morning; record high reached at O'Hare

Peak wind gusts, up to 60mph, expected between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.

ByMark Rivera, Larry Mowry, Ravi Baichwal, and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, December 16, 2021
LIVE look around Chicago
LIVE look around Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Chicago area is bracing for potentially damaging winds, with gusts up to 60 mph, as a low pressure system bears down on northern Illinois.

The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday for the following counties in Illinois: Boone, Cook, De Kalb, DuPage, Ford, Grundy, Iroquois, Kane, Kankakee, Kendall, LaSalle, Lake, Livingston, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Will, Winnebago; and in Indiana: Benton, Jasper, Newton, Porter.

Meteorologist Larry Mowry said this area could see gusts up to 60 mph, with peak winds occurring between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m. Winds that high could down tree limbs and possibly lead to some power outages.

The Chicago area is bracing for potentially damaging winds, with gusts up to 60 mph, as a low pressure system bears down on northern Illinois.

A Wind Advisory is also in effect for the rest of northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, with gusts up to 50 mph expected.

The high winds will be accompanied by a cold front racing east at 80 mph that is expected to bring a fast-moving line of showers to the city around midnight. Mowry also said the the system could evolve into a derecho in Wisconsin.

Some of these showers may have some thunder and could enhance the already gusty winds. As a result, the National Weather Service said it could issue Severe Thunderstorm Warnings.

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The wind has already begun to take a toll.

As of 10:30 p.m., O'Hare has reported a total of 100 cancelations and Midway has nine, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

A light pole crashed through at Canal and Van Buren streets early in the evening; an Old Town tree crashed down onto a vehicle in the 1400 block of North Wells; and loose bricks on a vacant building at 56 E Chicago brought out BAttalion 1 from the Chicago Fire Department to manage the hazard.

Peak wind gusts, up to 60mph, expected between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.

ComEd is also reporting 35 outages as of 10 p.m.

Chicago also set a new record high Wednesday when O'Hare hit 65 degrees, breaking the old record of 64 set in 1971.

The last time we had 60s in December was on Dec. 26, 2019, when it hit 61 degrees. The last time we were as warm as 65 degrees at any point in December was Dec. 4, 2017.

On a record breaking warm weather winter day in the city, crowds were out in force, sans those heavy jackets, but gusty winds could wreak havoc on your holiday decorations.

WATCH | Tips to secure your holiday decorations

Here's how to make sure your lights, garlands and inflatables stay in place with high winds expected.

"The wind is not your friend during the holiday season.," said Kelly Fitzsimmons, owner of Light Up Your Holidays, a professional holiday lighting service.

She said making sure your lights, garlands and fixtures are secure should be your number one priority and she has some tips.

"When our winds are wicked, there's no way your inflatables are truly going to stay up so you can choose to deflate them," she said. "We don't want this blowing out in the street and hitting a car, so security wise you have your strong weights."

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She recommends three anchor points for large inflatables.

"With tree installation, it's really important to actually secure the lights to the trunk and you see this connection is way far off the ground so water won't penetrate," she said, pointing to a power connection high up a tree trunk. "And we also weave the lights to the inside of the branch."

And for the garlands and wreathes, "notice what we have installed here is a stainless steal screw, which we wrap with wire, and this baby is not going anywhere," she said.

Fitzsimmons said the display in this story is much less traditional and classical compared to what most of her clients request, but certainly colorful and entertaining.

With the winds kicking up, it might be a good idea of bring in your inflatables if they're not anchored firmly.

Vendors at the downtown Christkindlmarket were also preparing for the overnight storm.

"They made an announcement at the beginning of the day today that said, if the wind gets really bad, they might shut down the market early," said one vendor.

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