CHICAGO — A line of powerful thunderstorms swept across the upper Midwest Monday, grounding hundreds of flights at Chicago's airports and cutting power to more than half a million homes and businesses in the region.
The National Weather Service reported extensive damage to trees, traffic signals, power lines and structures across the greater Chicago area, but a spokesman told AFP no injuries had been reported.
At 9:35 am (1430 GMT), more than 100 flights had been cancelled at busy O'Hare International Airport, said Karen Pride of the Chicago Department of Aviation, adding none of the airports had experienced power outages.
The Chicago Department of Aviation reported delays of 45 minutes for flights coming in and out of O'Hare, and 50 minutes for Midway Airport, located on the city's southwest side.
But flight tracking websites, including flightstats.com, reported significant departure delays at O'Hare, in some cases up to two hours.
Energy company Commonwealth Edison reported some 700,000 customers had lost power and had already restored service to 121,000, spokesman Tommy Hernandez told AFP.
This may be the worst storm-related outage in the company's history, he added.
"Keep in mind people were at work when the storm hit," Hernandez said. "So we won't have final numbers until everyone gets home tonight. But this could be the largest outage we've ever seen."
The high winds caused extensive damage to trees and some structural damage, said Stephen Rodriguez, meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
"The thunderstorms that moved across the central plains affecting the Chicago area are somewhat typical of this time of year," Rodriguez told the AFP. "But the winds and damage were pretty significant."
The fast-moving storms continued their push eastward into southern Michigan and northwestern Indiana.
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