CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on severe weather in the Midwest (all times local):
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 1 a.m. for much of northern Illinois and parts of Indiana as forecasts call for severe thunderstorms to move across the area.
The weather service forecast the possibility of widespread damaging winds and some hurricane-force gusts late Wednesday, with large hail and a few isolated tornados also possible.
The tornado watch includes the Lake Michigan shore from Wilmette, north of Chicago, to Michigan City, Indiana Lake and McHenry counties aren’t included in the tornado watch but remain under a flash flood watch.
Weather service meteorologist Matt Mostiko says some locally heavy rain was expected into late Wednesday. However, as a warm front crosses into Illinois from Iowa, much stronger and more dangerous storms are expected to develop.
Emergency officials in Chicago are preparing for severe weather to hit around rush hour.
Rich Guidice is managing deputy of operations for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. He says there are games and concerts scheduled for Wednesday evening and his office is reviewing evacuation plans for Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and a lake front park.
The threat of severe weather includes high winds, hail and the possibility of tornadoes.
But tornadoes within the city limits of Chicago are rare.
Meteorologists say part of the explanation could be milder temperatures by Lake Michigan lowering the potential energy for a storm. But weather experts caution tornadoes can strike anywhere if conditions are right.
According to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign, Illinois, a tornado briefly touched down in Chicago in 2006, but there were no injuries. In 1961, an F2 tornado hit Chicago and one person was killed.
Both of Chicago’s airports have canceled flights as powerful storms are anticipated to hit parts of the Midwest.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said Wednesday that 85 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airports. Schedules there were running about 30 minutes late. At Midway International Airport, 40 flights were canceled. Flights were about 20 minutes behind.
National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley says high winds are expected to be the biggest threat. There could be wind gusts over 70 mph.
Forecasters predict the most severe conditions during the late afternoon and evening hours. Far eastern Iowa and northern Illinois could see “significant” tornadoes of an EF2 rating or higher. Wind gusts could be 70 mph or greater. The worst weather is expected in Chicago after 4 p.m.
Powerful storms could bring hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and golf ball-sized hail to parts of the Midwest on Wednesday, including the Chicago area.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, warned that far eastern Iowa and northern Illinois could see “significant” tornadoes of an EF2 rating or higher on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Wind gusts could be 70 mph or greater with the worst weather expected in Chicago after 4 p.m.
Forecaster Matt Mosier said tornadoes will be possible for about two hours in a triangle roughly from Davenport, Iowa, to Chicago to Milwaukee. Damaging winds are then expected across northern Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.
In all, about 98 million people could see stormy weather Wednesday in an area stretching from southern Minnesota to the East Coast.
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