Tornado watch issued, damaging winds possible from storms

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Damaging winds with hurricane-force gusts are headed to the Chicago area Monday evening as a “particularly dangerous” line of storms sweeps across the Midwest. A severe thunderstorm watch is now in place for the metro area.

The line of storms threatens to bring downpours, widespread large hail and perhaps even tornadoes to a large area of the Midwest, stretching from Iowa to Michigan, and from Wisconsin to Missouri, according to the National Weather Service.

In the Chicago area, “the primary threat by far is going to be damaging winds, potentially significant damaging winds,” said Gino Izzi, a meteorologist with the weather service office in Romeoville.

Wind gusts could be “hurricane-force” in spots, blowing at or above 80 mph, the weather service said.

As of 3:30 p.m., the Chicago area is under a severe thunderstorm watch until 9 p.m., and forecasters are calling tonight’s weather “a particularly dangerous situation.”

The Chicago Fire Department is also warning boats to seek safe harbor, it said in a message on Twitter.

“The storms are going to be moving extraordinarily fast,” said Izzi.

The storms are moving in from the west, and could hit the western suburbs around 6 p.m., Izzi said. They may arrive over downtown about6:30 or 7 p.m., and move into northwest Indiana by 7:30 p.m., he said.

Chicago-area residents could also see hail, “torrential rainfall and localized flooding,” and frequent cloud-to-ground lightning, the weather service said.

A tornado watch is in effect until 7 p.m. for western Illinois west of I-90, including DeKalb, La Salle, Boone and Winnebago counties, the weather service said. A watch means conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

Those counties could also see isolated wind gusts up to 85 mph and large hail up to 2.5 inches in diameter, the weather service said.

Other areas in the Midwest could see hailstones as large as baseballs, forecasters said.

Local rivers could approach flooding levels because of the rainfall, the weather service said.

The rest of Monday will stay breezy and hot with highs in the mid-80s before the thunderstorms roll in, forecasters said. Lows will be in the upper 60s overnight.

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