CHICAGO — High winds continue to cause problems across the Chicago area, and a High Wind Warning for the region has been extended until 9 p.m. Sunday.
As deepening low pressure pulls away to the northeast, people in the Chicago area are experiencing very strong westerly winds of 25 to 60 miles per hour and higher. As of 6 p.m. strong west winds were still gusting 45 to 50 mph at many locations across the Chicago area.
These winds can make for very dangerous driving conditions, especially in high-profile vehicles on north-south roads and highways. Gusts led to scattered power outages, with ComEd saying thousands of customers are dealing with problems. In Old Irving Park, high winds toppled 75 feet of scaffolding, which collapsed onto several parked cars. Winds likely brought down a nearby light pole as well. In Skokie a tree limb fell, damaging two cars.
"Branch just fell and smashed my car and my neighbor’s car there," Mark Diaz said.
Planes struggled to stay on path in and out of O’Hare as crosswinds measuring 56 miles per hour buffeted planes. The wind even seemed to make basic things like walking and driving more difficult, and added another challenge for firefighters battling a blaze on the West Side. Wind carried smoke across the street, blocking the sun, as firefighters battled two elements.
There were no injuries to people, although two pets died in the blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, although it appears to have started in the back of a third story apartment.
“The wind just like carried everything up and the smoke just went everywhere, it was suffocating," neighbor Michelle Marino said.
Funneling of winds due to building orientation, topography and tree stands can cause even more extreme winds, so be alert for sudden lulls followed by gusts well in excess of 60 mph.
The winds will carry increasingly colder air into the area. High temperatures will occur early and then fall, with readings dropping through the 20s Sunday afternoon and then teens and eventually single-digits Sunday night.
Scattered rain showers will change over to snow showers as the colder air sweeps into the area. Snow showers combined with these strong winds can cause a "snow-globe" effect with sudden sharply reduced visibility.
Temperatures will continue a steady fall overnight into single digits by early Monday morning, when wind chills will run from minus 5 to minus 15 degrees.
The following is a list of highest wind gusts recorded today at area airport locations:
- Aurora/Sugar Grove: 65
- Wheeling/Chicago exe: 63
- Gary: 63
- O’Hare: 60
- Midway: 60
- Peru/Ottawa: 60
- Valparaiso, IN: 59
- DuPage/West Chicago: 58
- Morris/Washburn: 58
- Milwaukee, WI: 58
- Rochelle: 56
- Rockford: 56
- Lansing: 55
- Pontiac: 55
- Rensselaer, IN: 5
- Burlington, WI: 55
- Sterling/Rock Falls: 54
- DeKalb: 54
- Romeoville/Lewis Univ: 53
- Kenosha, WI: 52
- Waukegan: 48