CHICAGO -- Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest on
Sunday, causing extensive damage in several central Illinois communities
while sending people scrambling for shelter and even prompting
officials at Chicago's Soldier Field to evacuate the stands and delay
the Bears game.
The community of Washington in central
Illinois appeared particularly hard-hit, with one resident saying his
neighborhood was wiped out in a matter of seconds.
stepped outside and I heard it coming. My daughter was already in the
basement, so I ran downstairs and grabbed her, crouched in the laundry
room and all of a sudden I could see daylight up the stairway and my
house was gone," Michael Perdun said Sunday afternoon in an interview
with The Associated Press on his cellphone. "The whole neighborhood's
gone, (and) the wall of my fireplace is all that is left of my house."
mid-afternoon it remained unclear how many people were hurt. In a news
release, the Illinois National Guard said it had dispatched 10
firefighters and three vehicles to Washington to assist with "immediate
search and recovery operations in the tornado damaged area."
And Steve Brewer, chief operating officer at Methodist Medical Center
of Illinois in Peoria, said that four or five people had come to the
hospital seeking treatment, but he described their injuries as minor. He
said another area hospital had received about 15 patients, but did not
know the severity of their injuries.
Brewer said doctors
and other medical professionals were setting up a temporary emergency
care center to treat the wounded before transporting them to area
"I went over there immediately after the
tornado, walking through the neighborhoods, and I couldn't even tell
what street I was on," Alderman Tyler Gee told WLS-TV. "Just completely
flattened - some of the neighborhoods here in town, hundreds of homes."
About 90 minutes after the tornado destroyed homes in Washington, the storm darkened downtown Chicago.
the rain and high winds slammed into the area, officials at Soldier
Field evacuated the stands and ordered the Bears and Baltimore Ravens
off the field. Storms rolled in along the lakefront shortly after
kickoff, reports CBS Chicago.
Fans were warned about a possible evacuation to the concourse with
about 10 minutes left in the first quarter and were eventually told to
leave their seats after the Ravens kicked a field goal with 4:51 left in
the first quarter. Fans were allowed back to their seats shortly after 2
p.m., and the game resumed after about a two-hour delay.
Earlier, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued
a warning to fans, urging them "to take extra precautions and ...
appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety." NFL games in
Cincinnati and Pittsburgh also could be affected by the rough weather.
No flights were allowed to leave or enter both O'Hare or Midway airports, the city's Department of Aviation told CBS Chicago. Flights may be delayed up to an hour at both airports.
as of 2 p.m. Central Time, the heavy rains and high winds have left
75,200 people without power in the Chicago area, ComEd spokewoman Noelle
The storm also followed dire warnings by the National Weather Service
of what was coming and that the storm was simply moving too fast for
people to wait until they saw it to get ready.
primary message is this is a dangerous weathers system that has the
potential to be extremely deadly and destructive," said Laura Furgione,
deputy director of the National Weather Service National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration. "Get ready now."
Weather service officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just
before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, about
150 miles southwest of Chicago, but authorities did not immediately
have damage or injury reports. Within an hour, the weather service said
that tornadoes had touched down in Washington, Metamora, Morton and
other central Illinois communities, though officials could not say
whether it was one tornado touching down or several.
is a very dangerous situation," said Russell Schneider, director of the
weather service's Storm Prediction Center. "Approximately 53 million in
10 states are at significant risk for thunderstorms and tornadoes."
The potential severity of the storm this late in the season also carries the risk of surprise.
can fall into complacency because they don't see severe weather and
tornadoes, but we do stress that they should keep a vigilant eye on the
weather and have a means to hear a tornado warning because things can
change very quickly," said Matt Friedlein, a weather service
According to agency officials, parts of
Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio were at the
greatest risk of seeing tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds
throughout the day Sunday. Strong winds and atmospheric instability were
expected to sweep across the central Plains during the day before
pushing into the mid-Atlantic states and northeast by evening. Many of
the storms were expected to become supercells, with the potential to
produce tornadoes, large hail and destructive winds.
Friedlein said that such strong storms are rare this late in the year
because there usually isn't enough heat from the sun to sustain the
thunderstorms. But he said temperatures Sunday were expected to reach
into the 60s and 70s, which he said is warm enough to help produce
severe weather when it is coupled with winds, which are typically
stronger this time of year than in the summer.
don't need temperatures in the 80s and 90s to produce severe weather
(because) the strong winds compensate for the lack of heating," he said.
"That sets the stage for what we call wind shear, which may produce
He also said that the tornadoes this time a
year happen more often than people might realize, pointing to a twister
that hit the Rockford, Ill., area in November 2010.