Storms rock Chicago area, snarling transit and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands

June 22, 2011

The Associated Press and Jennifer Brandel

(AP/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Storm clouds loom over U.S. Cellular Field, where the Cubs and the White Sox had their game delayed due to weather Tuesday.

Heavy rains, high winds and funnel clouds tore through Chicago and surrounding suburbs Tuesday night. Winds were reported up to 85 miles per hour, and funnel clouds were spotted in Kingston, Naperville, Grayslake and Sugar Grove.

The weather forced hundreds of flight cancellations at Chicago's two major airports Tuesday night. The Chicago Aviation Department reports more than 300 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport, with 30 cancellations at Midway International Airport.

Storms also caused service disruptions for the Chicago Transit Authority. As of 5:30 Wednesday morning, the Yellow Line had been suspended and there were service disruptions on the Purple Line.

As of 1:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon, Commonwealth Edison said the storms knocked out power to about 400,000 customers around Chicago. Since the storm began, ComEd has restored power for 193,000 customers.

A spokesman for Chicago's commuter rail Metra service said a train Tuesday was standing with outbound passengers for about five hours when a powerful storm knocked down a power line in the train's path.

Metra spokesman Michael Gillis Said passengers who were stuck when the train was stalled in Irving Park were being asked either to find another way home or to wait even longer for another train.

Two inbound trains also remained stranded before dawn Wednesday, though Gillis says one had no passengers aboard and the other had few, if any.

There were numerous other delays and cancellations on the rail line due to thunderstorms and heavy winds that pounded the upper Midwest through the night.