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Wind Gusts and Hail Rip Through Far North Side Sunday, Trees, Power Down

By Linze Rice | August 2, 2015 9:23pm | Updated on August 2, 2015 9:42pm
 This blue car had its window smashed in during a storm burst on Sunday afternoon.
This blue car had its window smashed in during a storm burst on Sunday afternoon.
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Lori Hile

ROGERS PARK — A hot, blue-skied Sunday turned in a flash into a frenzy of hail, wind and rain throughout Far North Side neighborhoods, leaving major damage to power lines and streets that city officials said could take hours to fix.

Just after 9 p.m. Ald. Joe Moore (49th) sent an email to residents saying that 6,500 residents lost power due to the "very strong storm." He said as of about 9 p.m., 4,400 community members were still waiting to have their power restored, which could take up to 24 hours.

At least 75 trees had been uprooted in the Rogers Park neighborhood, causing the city's Bureau of Forestry to work "around the clock" in order to clean up debris, Moore said.

Moore also said 24th District Police Cmdr. Roberto Nieves would ask officers not to issue parking tickets for street cleaning violations until storm damage is cleared.

Linze Rice says the storm caught many neighbors by surprise:

The storm swept through about 3 p.m. Rogers Park resident Lori Hile said she was walking her dog when the pair decided to turn back due to the heat.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the sweltering temperature shifted to a chilling monsoon of hail.

Hile said her Weather.com app showed Chicago sitting at 81 degrees with "mixed snow and sleet" at 3:04 p.m.

Neighbors gathering to assess storm damage near North Park and West Ridge. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

"We turned back — and within five minutes, the skies darkened, the winds picked up and down came the torrential rains and hard-hitting hail the size of large marbles," she said. "It ended almost as quickly as it began."

She returned to her block to find neighbors gathering around uprooted trees and broken branches and leaves covering the streets and sidewalks.

At 3:12 p.m., CTA sent an alert stating the Red Line trains were operating with delays due to "debris on the tracks." CTA ceased operating trains between Granville and Howard from 5:43 p.m. to 7:17 p.m., and officials warned of "residual delays" afterward.

It was the same in nearby neighborhoods West Ridge, North Park and Sauganash.

In the Sauganash neighborhood, around 5 p.m. bright sunshine highlighted the storm's aftermath — endless trees lying on their sides along West Peterson, roots exposed.

Stoplights were also out on Peterson in North Park around the same time, causing bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on Lincoln and Peterson avenues.

Moore said the city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications was trying to get traffic signals at Touhy and Ridge, Pratt and Ridge and Pratt and Ashland back up and running.

Between Sauganash and West Ridge neighborhoods, numerous street corners still sat flooded with rainwater from hours earlier.

As Hile surveyed her block on Greenview Avenue in Rogers Park, she said she watched a group of neighbors lifting a fallen tree before sawing off branches to allow cars to pass through the roadway. Another tree had fallen on a car, shattering its windshield.

Rogers Park resident Lori Hile said her neighbors on Greenview Ave. lifted and moved a fallen tree, sawing off its branches and making way for cars traveling down the street. [Lori Hile]

The Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce posted video online of parts of the storm taken at the corner of Chase and Sheridan. People can be seen seeking shelter inside a local food mart while overcast skies give way to a temporary torrential downpour, pelting cars with hail as they drive north on Sheridan.

The organization said they would be available to help residents clean up in the storm's wake.

Hail can be seen in the video falling during the storm. [YouTube/Rogers Park Chamber of Commerce]

In a post on Facebook, the chamber said they'd received reports from residents of broken car and home windows, in addition to power outages — some of which were affecting residents' refrigeration.

Pictures on social media show a CTA bus stop shelter at Morse and Glenwood overturned, and another shows a firefighter checking out a large, uprooted tree on Lunt. According to the picture's poster, the tree blocked traffic along CTA bus route 96 that normally runs on the street.

Moore said in the meantime, residents may call 311 to report any damaged areas, or his office at 773-338-5796 for emergency tree clean-up.

Streets were still flooded at the intersection of Peterson and Pulaski around 5 p.m. Sunday. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

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