CHICAGO — The National Weather Service confirmed Thursday a total of 13 tornadoes after Wednesday night’s storms.

The first Elgin tornado had a maximum intensity EF-1 and maximum wind speed of 100 mph. The track roughly started east of Rt. 47 and ended near the railroad tracks west of Villa Olivia Golf Course.

The NWS says the second tornado in Elgin had a max intensity of EF-0 with max wind speed of 85 mph. The tornado began close to McDonald Road and ended along Hopps Road.

A NWS team confirmed a third tornado after grounds were surveyed from Burr Ridge to Stickney. A EF-1 with max winds near 110 mph was identified.

The fourth tornado confirmed by NWS was reportedly an EF-0 with a maximum wind speed of 85 mph in northeastern Oswego and eastern Boulder Hill Wednesday evening.

NWS survey teams confirmed three additional tornadoes across McHenry and Lake County in Illinois. In Huntley, an EF-1 with max wind speeds of 90 mph. Two EF-0 tornados were also confirmed with one in Barrington with max wind speeds of 80 mph and another in Long Grove with max wind speeds of 70 mph.

Four additional tornadoes from Wednesday were confirmed by NWS late Thursday night, including an EF-0 tornado touchdown from Carol Stream to Glendale Heights, another from Itasca to O’Hare Airport, followed by O’Hare Airport to the southeast side of Des Plaines, and one was confirmed in Streamwood.

On Friday, the National Weather Service confirmed two additional tornadoes from Wednesday’s storm. Two EF-0 tornadoes with peak winds of 70-80 mph occurred in Schaumburg and on the far east side of Loves Park in Caledonia Township and Boone County.

The NWS also confirmed a waterspout occurred a mile or two offshore of Chicago’s North Avenue Beach Wednesday evening.

Elgin was just one of the several communities hit by severe weather Wednesday night. NWS teams are expected to survey the damage across the Chicago area, where fierce winds from suspected tornadoes ripped roofs from buildings, downed trees and sent residents scrambling for safety as sirens sounded.

Four teams from the weather service headed out Thursday morning to survey storm damage reported Wednesday across numerous areas of the Chicago metropolitan area and points farther west to determine if tornadoes caused that damage, said Zachary Yack, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Chicago area office.

As of Thursday morning, he said the only confirmed tornado was the one that touched down in the Cicero area, near O’Hare International Airport. The twister sent passengers dashing for shelter at the airport and disrupted hundreds of flights, but no injuries were reported.

“We’ve got lots of reports of damage but we don’t know at this time what caused that so we’re out surveying those areas today to find out exactly what went on,” Yack said.

Ty Carr, a resident of the Skyline Motel in McCook, Illinois, said a tornado tore off its roof.

“Just chaos,” Carr said, cradling a toddler as he spoke to reporters. “It was really fast, and the noises and the crackling and the wind — it was just something I’ve never seen or been through, you know?”

Rajan Patel, whose family owns the motel, said his family came to the Chicago area in the 1990s with nothing, and now their motel is severely damaged.

“The entire place is ruined,” Patel said. “I don’t know, man. I don’t know how to recover anything. I don’t know.”

The weather service posted a map on social media highlighting nine yellow-shaded areas, including the Cicero area, where there were either reports of storm damage or indications from radar of possible tornadoes, Yack said. The teams will determine if tornadoes hit those areas, and if so, will work to pin down their tracks and intensity ratings.

The weather service said the suspected tornadoes were spawned by rotating thunderstorms known as supercells.

Meteorologist Victor Gensini estimated that most of the tornadoes that occurred Wednesday “were rather short-lived and rather weak.”

Morning rainfall and cloud cover dampened the amount of instability that could build up in the atmosphere, and the storm system was vertically shorter — and less deadly — than a typical tornado, said Gensini, who is a professor of meteorology at Northern Illinois University.

“Sometimes thunderstorms can get so tall and so strong that they reach up to … 60,000 feet. The storms Wednesday were in the 25,000- or 30,000-foot range,” he said.

A cluster of storms formed in mid-to-late afternoon in northwest Illinois, moved toward the Interstate 39 corridor and eventually into the western suburbs of Chicago, hitting peak intensity around 5 to 6:30 p.m. central time, Gensini said.

“I’m sad for the folks that are cleaning up today, and picking up tree limbs, but at least we’re not talking about planning funerals,” he said.

  • Apartment building wall blew off during Wednesay's storm in Indian Head (Photo Courtesy Ben Bradley)
  • Hinsdale, Illinois severe weather

Hillary Timpe in Countryside, Illinois, a suburb southwest of Chicago, was with her husband, Greg, when the tornado whipped quickly through their neighborhood, damaging homes. No one was injured, although the force of the twister ripped their 100-year-old tree out of the ground.

“When the winds kicked up really hard, really fast, and I’m like, ‘Basement — now! Grab the dog, let’s go!’ And it wasn’t more than a couple seconds after that, that got really crazy.”

Video from TV stations showed hundreds of people taking shelter in an O’Hare concourse. Some 173 flights departing the airport were canceled and more than 500 were delayed, according to the flight tracking service FlightAware.

Kevin Bargnes, director of communications for O’Hare and Chicago Midway International Airport, told WGN-TV Wednesday night that no damage was reported at either airport.

The weather service quoted an unidentified emergency manager as saying a roof was blown off in the community of Huntley in McHenry County northwest of Chicago.

More than 10,000 customers lost power in the region, but power was mostly restored by Thursday morning, according to

In southern Michigan, a team from the weather service and local emergency management will survey damage Thursday from a possible tornado that was reported Wednesday night near the village of Colon, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Kalamazoo.

Over the years many tornadoes have struck in the Chicago metropolitan area, and several have hit within the city limits of Chicago, according to the National Weather Service. Between 1855 and 2021, the weather service recorded 97 significant tornadoes in the Chicago metro area.

The deadliest formed in Palos Hills in Cook County on April 21, 1967. The twister traveled 16 miles (26 kilometers) through Oak Lawn and the south side of Chicago, killing 33 people, injuring 500 and causing more than $50 million in damage, according to the weather service.

Full forecast details and more at the WGN Weather Center blog