A tornado with peak winds of 110 miles per hour touched down in Rogers Park Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service confirmed Tuesday.
A map of the tornado’s path shows its 3-mile path stretch from near Touhy and Crawford avenues in Lincolnwood to Rogers Park and into Lake Michigan, where the weather service said it turned into a waterspout.
The twister, which touched down on the North Side around 4 p.m., was about 300 yards wide.
“We had indications from the radar, but there were a couple of videos that popped up. We saw one that showed debris being elevated through rotation and another one that was near the lake; it also indicated rotation. You can clearly see that one,” said Brian Leatherwood, with the NWS office in Romeoville.
We have confirmed that an EF-1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph and path length of 3 miles touched down in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago during the 8/10/2020 derecho event. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/oZ4Z2EEYe0
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) August 11, 2020
Despite the storm’s heavy damage, concentrated in the Rogers Park neighborhood, city agencies reported no major injuries to residents.
About 60,000 people in Chicago were still without power Tuesday evening, according to ComEd senior vice president Melissa Washington. Crews restored 60% of outages since the peak when some 900,000 ComEd customers were without power, she said.
Ald. Matt O’Shea (19th) said Tuesday morning there were about 4,300 customers without power, including two senior living facilities, in his Southwest Side ward.
Some customers, however, will be kept waiting days for power to return.
Most people without power will have it restored by Friday, according to ComEd spokesman John Schoen. Some areas with “extensive damage” may be waiting until Saturday, he said.
“Unfortunately some people will be waiting, but not everybody,” he said. “We have crews working around the clock getting the power back on.”
The utility has called in about 1,500 employees from out of state to help restore power in Illinois.
Sky ‘didn’t look good’
Nikki Hoffman, who lives in the Albany Park neighborhood, was on the second floor of her house with her husband, watching the storm approach.
“The sky really didn’t look good, it was kind of a greenish hue. It started to rotate,” Hoffman said Tuesday morning.
That’s when she and her husband, Mike Hoffman, hurried down the stairs toward their basement. As they reached the first floor, they caught a glimpse of the chaos outside their front window: big trees being ripped and shredded.
And then, they heard the distinctive freight-train rumble so often associated with tornados.
The couple spent 20 minutes huddled in the basement.
They surfaced to find major destruction from one end of their block to the other.
“Our whole block was just wiped,” she said. “Houses are standing, but the shingles are everywhere.”
The Hoffmans’ back fence was destroyed and leaning against their house.
We received this video from the Rogers Park section of #Chicago, of debris being lifted. There was a tornado warning in effect for the north side of the city. If you have any instances of significant damage from Rogers Park & nearby, please tweet them to us. Thanks. #ilwx https://t.co/nq3vstjEnW
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) August 10, 2020
When the wind began to rage Monday afternoon, Edelvira Munoz, who was heading home from a doctor’s appointment, took solace in knowing there were no big trees around her Northwest Side home. Her relief was short lived.
She and her husband, Jose Munoz, arrived home in separate cars to find a neighbor’s enormous blue spruce lying on top of their brick home. Branches punctured the second-floor ceiling in three places.
There were simply too many things for Edelvira to worry about Tuesday morning, as she stood on her porch.
“We have no light, we have no air conditioning. Everything in the fridge is going to go to waste,” she said, speaking through a translator.
Jose Munoz said he was grateful to have homeowners insurance.
Dorina Munoz, the couple’s daughter-in-law, lives in the house too. She shrugged when asked what to make of the family’s bad luck.
“We either get flooded or there’s a tree on the house,” she said.
Storms have swept through Noelle Shannon’s Albany Park neighborhood from time to time, but nothing in her 20 years there compared with what happened Monday afternoon.
Heaps of shattered tree limbs lined her block of North Springfield Avenue on Tuesday afternoon. Shannon gestured to a hatch, weighing perhaps 100 pounds, that had been torn from the roof of a nearby apartment building and now lay near her front lawn.
Shannon was with her boyfriend storing lawn furniture when she felt an eerie stillness in the air, saw the sky darken to an ominous green. Neither she nor her boyfriend had a cellphone handy so they didn’t get the emergency text that alerted many other Chicagoans on Monday. Instead, she felt the pelting rain, saw tree branches whipping violently and heard glass breaking.
She and her boyfriend only dashed into the house after hearing the wail of emergency sirens.
“The house was creaking and shifting,” she said. “I was afraid a part of the house was going to collapse.”
About 20 minutes later, Shannon surfaced to view the devastation, including her own smashed garage door.
She doesn’t regret lingering in her backyard until the storm was raging overhead.
“Had I been in the house, I could not have experienced that adrenaline rush,” she said.
Field House loses roof
The storm peeled the roof off the Shabbona Field House on the Northwest Side. A children’s gymnastics class was underway, but staff managed move the kids to the basement, said a woman who works in the building but didn’t want her name used.
A large tree at Hamilton and Touhy avenues in Rogers Park fell, damaging a Buick underneath.
“It was loud. The house shook. It was like a boom. Sirens went off and the lights went off at the same time,” said Alya Jawaid, 32, a nurse who lives feet from the fallen tree.
“It was like a giant ripped it out of ground,” she said.
A tree fell in the play area of a Rogers Park day care. Luckily, the 10 kids at the Little People Daycare and Kindergarten, 7248 N. Rogers Ave., were all inside and no one was injured.
“We heard a loud boom and a crash and everyone went to the back of the building and laid down,” said Iris Henderson, an employee of the day care. “The kids weren’t scared at all, they actually thought it was cool.”
35,000 calls for tree removal
More than 35,000 emergency calls for tree removal had been logged with the city as of Tuesday evening, according to the Streets and Sanitation Department. The trees were “blocking streets or causing some sort of danger,” department spokeswoman Cristina Villarreal said.
Hundreds had been removed, and “we’ll be out until all are cleaned,” she said.
The two wards with the highest volume of calls were the 47th, which includes Lincoln Square and Ravenswood, and the 36th, which includes the Montclare neighborhood.
The city also responded to 375 reports of downed wires and nearly 80 malfunctioning traffic lights, according to Tom Carney, first deputy commissioner of Chicago Department of Transportation.
The last confirmed tornado in Chicago occurred in 2018. The category zero twister, the weakest category, moved across the city’s West Side for four minutes, spanning a length of 1.7 miles, according to the NWS. The “weak tornado” was 75 yards wide and mostly caused minor tree damage.