Chicago Braces For Severe Weather Threats, Flight Cancellations Climb
Moderate Threat Level Issued
Much of the Chicago area, particularly southern and western suburbs along with portions of northwest Indiana, are now under a “Moderate” risk for severe weather threats, meaning widespread severe storms are likely. The moderate threat level is the fourth of a five-scale system from the Storm Prediction Center. The previous “Enhanced” threat level is third on the five-scale system. Live radar can be found here. Our original story continues below.
Flights Halted By Severe Weather
A ground delay has been reported at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport for thunderstorms and flight cancellations continue to climb as severe weather moves through the area. With potentially dangerous weather in the form of thunderstorms, damaging winds, and the risk of hail and tornadoes threatening the entire Chicago area Friday, cancellations have exceeded 250 at O’Hare and Midway airports combined, the Chicago Department of Aviation’s Fly Chicago website shows.
Travel Troubles At Busy Time
According to the site‘s flight status tracker, as of 5:20 p.m., O’Hare International Airport showed 154 cancellations and Midway showed 128. According to city officials, the flight disruptions come at one of the busiest travel times of the year: Spring Break and Holy Week. “Parking lots at ORD are filling up quickly due to Spring Break travel,” O’Hare said in a Tweet Friday morning, accompanied by a photo of a stormy and cloudy sky.”
More Severe Weather Predicted
Between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. is when the area will see its greatest risk for intense and potentially severe weather, with “two rounds possible” in that time frame, the National Weather Service tweeted. While rain and storms are expected to break in the 11 a.m. hour, they’ll begin to pick back up again between 2 and 3 p.m. And according to the NBC 5 Storm Team, these storms have the potential to be severe.
Risk Level Rises
The Storm Prediction Center shows the entire Chicago area including suburbs along the lake and to the north, west and south is under an “enhanced” risk of severe weather beginning around 3 p.m. That risk level ranks at a three on a scale of five, the NBC 5 Storm Team says.
Potentially Powerful Storms
Between 4 and 5 p.m., numerous storms across the region are possible, the NBC 5 Storm Team says, with frequent lightning, torrential downpours, a limited hail risk and an area-wide threat of rain-wrapped tornadoes. And in addition to the gusty winds expected outside of the storm, powerful gusts during a thunderstorm could exceed 70 miles per hour.
According to ComEd, in the event of power outages, power will be restored to critical infrastructure such as hospitals, police and fire stations and nursing homes first, followed by repairs that will restore power to the greatest amount of customers. Even stronger winds could be accompanied by the storms moving through the area, the NBC 5 Storm Team says.
Travelers Advised To Prepare
Overnight hours are expected to be dry, and temperatures Saturday are expected to drop dramatically, going back into the mid 40s. Additionally, the morning hours could see a chance for some mixed precipitation. By Saturday afternoon, winds are going to pick up considerably, with some gusts exceeding 30-to-40 miles per hour, according to forecast models. Sunday is expected to be dry, and temperatures will be back up into the upper-50s and low-60s, forecast models show.