Meteorologists forecast a wild weather ride, and Mother Nature delivered.
Wednesday saw record high temperatures across the region, wind gusts above 60 miles per hour and even the smell of smoke, which rode in on winds all the way from Kansas.
Nearly 12,000 people were still without power early Thursday morning, down from more than 100,000 affected customers, according to ComEd. The utility said it expects to have all service restored by 11 p.m.
Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation received 215 complaints of downed or damaged trees since the high wind activity began Wednesday night, Mimi Simon, department spokeswoman, said.
Crews had responded to 139 tree emergencies as of mid-morning Thursday and will continue to work throughout the day until all complaints have been handled, she said.
According to the National Weather Service, a peak wind gust of 74 mph was recorded at the Chicago Crib, located off the lakefront. O’Hare notched a 66-mph gust.
The strong southwest winds also unexpectedly delivered the smell of smoke. “Have no fear — there are no fires nearby. The smoke is actually from Kansas,” where 80-100 mph winds rapidly spread brush fires, the weather service said.
If it weren’t for the winds, Chicagoans would have been enjoying the unseasonably warm temperatures, which broke daily records throughout the metropolitan area.
The official gauge at O'Hare reached 66 degrees just before midnight, besting the former record for Dec. 15 of 64 degrees set back in 1971.
Unusually strong and damaging winds blasted through our area last night with widespread 55 to 65 mph gusts. Here's a look at peak gusts since 8 PM yesterday. Did you see damage? Let us know with a reply and a picture. #ilwx #inwx pic.twitter.com/NCr7iraZ5F
— NWS Chicago (@NWSChicago) December 16, 2021