Chicago Area Is Hit by Severe Storms

More than 6.6 million people in Chicago and the surrounding region, including parts of Indiana, were under tornado watches and warnings on Tuesday evening as severe storms battered the area, according to the National Weather Service.

The storms prompted officials at O’Hare International Airport to briefly ground all departing flights and suspend its rail service on Tuesday evening while asking people in the airport to “exercise caution.”

The NBC News affiliate in Chicago shared video of hundreds of passengers packing into the airport for shelter.

An early picture of the damage inflicted by the storms began to emerge Tuesday night as officials worked to assess damage and confirm tornadoes in several communities west of Chicago. The threat of additional tornadoes overnight was moving southeast into Indiana and Kentucky.

The National Weather Service confirmed there were reports of at least one tornado touchdown in Henry County in western Illinois. Images on social media in one Henry County community showed flattened metal buildings and a wooden structure scattered over a brick wall.

At least four other tornado sightings were reported by the Weather Service, including three near the city of DeKalb, roughly 60 miles west of the Chicago.

By about 10:30 p.m. local time, the tornado watches in northeast Illinois had been downgraded to wind advisories as the threat of tornado shifted southeast over Southern Illinois and Indiana and Kentucky, including Louisville. Roughly 9.8 million people in these areas were under a tornado watch late Tuesday night.

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