CHICAGO (AP) — The Latest on severe weather in the Midwest (all times local):
Officials in LaSalle County in northern Illinois say they are receiving reports of minor damage after a tornado touched down near the city of Earlville.
The LaSalle County Emergency Management Agency says it received reports late Wednesday of tree branches littering the streets of Earlville, but no reports of damage to homes or businesses.
The National Weather Service reports a tornado also touched down near the city of Amboy in Lee County. The Lee County Sheriff’s Department said late Wednesday no reports of damage have been received. Small towns in the area southwest of Chicago are surrounded by farm fields.
The severe weather moving east also forced fans attending the Copa America Centenario soccer game at Soldier Field in Chicago to seek shelter beneath the stands. Officials say the game is expected to resume.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for areas west of Chicago and for central and southern Cook County, which includes the city.
The National Weather Service reports a tornado has touched down near the northern Illinois cities of Amboy in Lee County and Earlville in LaSalle County.
The Lee County Sheriff’s Department said late Wednesday no reports of damage have been received. However, residents in LaSalle County have been advised to take shelter as the tornado moved to the east.
Small towns in the area are surrounded by farm fields.
The severe weather moving also forced fans attending the Copa America Centenario soccer game at Soldier Field in Chicago to seek shelter beneath the stands. Officials say the game is expected to resume around 9:30 p.m. CST.
A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued for areas west of Chicago and for central Cook County, which includes the city.
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado watch until 1 a.m. for much of northern Illinois and parts of Indiana as forecasts call for severe thunderstorms to move across the area.
The weather service forecast the possibility of widespread damaging winds and some hurricane-force gusts late Wednesday, with large hail and a few isolated tornados also possible.
The tornado watch includes the Lake Michigan shore from Wilmette, north of Chicago, to Michigan City, Indiana Lake and McHenry counties aren’t included in the tornado watch but remain under a flash flood watch.
Weather service meteorologist Matt Mostiko says some locally heavy rain was expected into late Wednesday. However, as a warm front crosses into Illinois from Iowa, much stronger and more dangerous storms are expected to develop.
Emergency officials in Chicago are preparing for severe weather to hit around rush hour.
Rich Guidice is managing deputy of operations for the Office of Emergency Management and Communications. He says there are games and concerts scheduled for Wednesday evening and his office is reviewing evacuation plans for Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and a lake front park.
The threat of severe weather includes high winds, hail and the possibility of tornadoes.
But tornadoes within the city limits of Chicago are rare.
Meteorologists say part of the explanation could be milder temperatures by Lake Michigan lowering the potential energy for a storm. But weather experts caution tornadoes can strike anywhere if conditions are right.
According to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center in Champaign, Illinois, a tornado briefly touched down in Chicago in 2006, but there were no injuries. In 1961, an F2 tornado hit Chicago and one person was killed.
Both of Chicago’s airports have canceled flights as powerful storms are anticipated to hit parts of the Midwest.
The Chicago Department of Aviation said Wednesday that 85 flights had been canceled at O’Hare International Airports. Schedules there were running about 30 minutes late. At Midway International Airport, 40 flights were canceled. Flights were about 20 minutes behind.
National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley says high winds are expected to be the biggest threat. There could be wind gusts over 70 mph.
Forecasters predict the most severe conditions during the late afternoon and evening hours. Far eastern Iowa and northern Illinois could see “significant” tornadoes of an EF2 rating or higher. Wind gusts could be 70 mph or greater. The worst weather is expected in Chicago after 4 p.m.
Powerful storms could bring hurricane-force winds, tornadoes and golf ball-sized hail to parts of the Midwest on Wednesday, including the Chicago area.
The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, warned that far eastern Iowa and northern Illinois could see “significant” tornadoes of an EF2 rating or higher on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Wind gusts could be 70 mph or greater with the worst weather expected in Chicago after 4 p.m.
Forecaster Matt Mosier said tornadoes will be possible for about two hours in a triangle roughly from Davenport, Iowa, to Chicago to Milwaukee. Damaging winds are then expected across northern Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio.
In all, about 98 million people could see stormy weather Wednesday in an area stretching from southern Minnesota to the East Coast.