On Wednesday, July 12, 2023, the greater Chicago area was hit by a series of tornadoes and thunderstorms, causing significant disruption to air travel and damaging homes in several counties. The severe weather forced the temporary halt of all air traffic at O’Hare and Midway airports and prompted the evacuation of their control towers.
The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that at least eight tornadoes touched down in four counties in northeastern Illinois, including four in Cook County, which is home to Chicago. The most severe of these was described as a “large and extremely dangerous” tornado that touched down in Summit, Illinois, just 16 km (10 miles) southwest of downtown Chicago and moved toward the city.
Around 30 minutes later, another tornado was confirmed near Chicago O’Hare International Airport, leading to the grounding of all departures of commercial flights into O’Hare and Midway airports and delays to outgoing flights. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported that more than 300 flights in and out of O’Hare and another 32 in and out of Midway were canceled. Off-site air traffic controllers assumed control of the airspace as the on-site controllers needed to evacuate the towers at O’Hare and Midway. Normal operations resumed after the storms passed.
In Elgin County, located about 54 km (34 miles) northwest of Chicago, at least 20 to 30 homes sustained significant damage from the tornadoes. Trees were uprooted and roofs blown off in the Cook County town of Countryside, and car windows were blown out in La Grange.
A drone video from Chicago and Midwest Storm Chasers showed the trail of destruction a tornado left behind in Countryside, Illinois, which is a town located roughly 24 km (15 miles) southwest of Chicago.
Homes were missing roofs and several trees had been knocked over. Tree and roof damage was also reported from several other twisters. One photo posted on social media showed a cinder block building collapsed in what appeared to be an industrial district of McCook, about 24 km (15 miles) southwest of Chicago.
1 Tornadoes touch down near Chicago, disrupting air traffic – Reuters – July 13, 2023
2 Tornado swarm strikes Chicago area, forcing hundreds of flight cancellations at O’Hare – AccuWeather – July 13, 2023
Featured image credit: Bust (@busta_59) (stillshot)
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