Wrigley cleared as tornado warning sounds

August 4, 2008 7:46:38 PM PDT
A powerful storm led to tornado warnings in downtown Chicago and the evacuation of fans from the stands at Chicago's Wrigley Field on Monday night.The National Weather Service had not confirmed any tornado touchdowns. But it says trained spotters have reported high-rotation winds in DeKalb and Kane counties in northeastern Illinois.

Fans at the Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros game were evacuated from Wrigley Field's stands into the stadium concourse as tornado sirens blared throughout the city.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Bob Sejnoha of Algonquin, who was at the Cubs game.

Passengers at O'Hare International Airport were evacuated into the lower levels of the complex's buildings. Travelers who had already boarded airplanes were taken off as the storm struck, then led to the lower levels as a precaution.

"It was pretty cramped down there, the whole terminal was down there," said George Wickens, 50, of London, who was trying to travel to Florida with his family. "I don't think anything will be getting out of Chicago tonight."

The storms did not cause any damage or injuries at O'Hare or Midway Airport, said Department of Aviation spokesman Gregg Cunningham.

Chicago Fire Department officials said there were no immediate reports of injuries.

More than 100,000 people in northern Illinois were without power, ComEd spokesman Joe Trost said.

Meteorologist Brad Churchill said 60 to 80 mph winds were expected.

The fast-moving storms caught many residents by surprise. Warning sirens sent pedestrians scrambling into high-rises and train stations for shelter.

Security guards at the Ogilvie Train Station, just off the Chicago River, ushered people streaming inside away from large glass windows and into the middle of the building.

"The lightning between the buildings was looking ominous," said Michaela Nelson, 58, as she brushed her dripping-wet hair at the station. "And then it just poured."

Kristin Febor, 21, watched the rain approach from the roof of the Marina Towers high-rise in downtown Chicago.

"The wind picked up and in probably five seconds it blew (my friend) into her husband," she said. "He grabbed her and pulled her inside and we all ran down the stairs. It was like dead still and then within five seconds, 10 seconds we were all blown away."

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Associated Press writers Caryn Rousseau, Megan Reichgott, Jason Straziuso and Rick Gano, and Associated Press photographer Michael Green contributed to this report.


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