Tornado Watch Issued: Severe Storms, 75 MPH Winds Expected To Hit Chicago Region Friday

A tornado watch has been issued by the National Weather Service for the Chicago region until 10 p.m. Friday.

The threat also exists for ping-pong size hail, according to the weather service.

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Northwest Indiana and southeast Wisconsin are also under the watch.

Meteorologists are warning of a dangerous "two-punch" threat of severe weather Friday, with the potential for two rounds of storms bringing wind gusts topping 75 miles per hour, damaging hail and the threat of tornadoes.  

According to the National Weather Service, the first round of storms could hit between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., with the second round between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. 

Though there's still some uncertainty surrounding the first wave of storms, the weather service said if it does materialize, it would bring a "heightened risk for longer-lived tornadoes and very large hail."

Scott Collis is the head of the geospatial computing, innovations and sensing department in the Environmental Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. He explained that the unseasonably warm months of January and February paired with the extra rainfall in March have created the perfect conditions for severe weather like Friday’s storm to form.

“There’s still a lot of lingering cold air above,” Collis said, “and if there’s one thing storms like to feed on, it’s air that gets cooler with height.”

Collis pointed out that the biggest threat of this storm are the destructive winds. 

Collis pointed out the importance of being prepared ahead of a major weather event like this one.

“Make sure you can receive a warning from the National Weather Service,” Collis said. “The most reliable way to do that is to have a weather radio — that way it works when there’s no internet, when there’s no power. The other ways to do it is broadcast over TV.”

Collis also said it’s important to have a plan in place in case dangerous weather hits, and a kit that includes a flashlight, a blanket, non-perishable food items and batteries, among other essential items.

Due to the fast speed of the storm — expected to move east at 65 miles per hour — the weather service said there will be less time to take action. 

Be aware of the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning, the service said. If a watch is issued, that means a tornado is possible. A warning means a tornado has happened or is about to, and people should take immediate cover.

This article originally published March 30 and has been updated with new forecast information from the National Weather Service. 

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