MILWAUKEE (AP) — Strong thunderstorms caused widespread damage across Wisconsin, and left tens of thousands without power in both Wisconsin and Illinois.
The severe weather stretched from the Mississippi River to Lake Michigan and began Wednesday evening in northwestern Wisconsin. By 2 a.m. Thursday, the numerous tornado warnings around the state had expired.
The National Weather Service was expected to survey hard hit areas to determine if tornadoes or high winds brought down power lines, trees and caused structural damage.
Utility crews worked to restore service to the thousands of power customers who lost service across the state. Electricity was knocked out to about 90,000 customers across the state, according to the tracking website PowerOutage, US.
The tornado warnings started in Wausau and eventually were issued for Waukesha, Jefferson and Milwaukee counties around 1 a.m. Thursday.
The National Weather Service placed nearly the entire state of Wisconsin under a severe thunderstorm watch until 2 a.m. Thursday.
A 70 mph wind gust was reported at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday in Merrill in Lincoln County, according to the weather service. Numerous trees and power lines were reported down in Merrill.
A 78 mph wind gust was reported at Weston in Marathon County at 9 p.m., according to the weather service.
Severe thunderstorms swept through the Chicago area and northern Illinois early Thursday with high winds that left thousands of homes and businesses without power.
The National Weather Service said several areas recorded wind gusts in excess of 60 mph that knocked down tree limbs or toppled whole trees, damaging some power lines.
Weather observers recorded a 64 mph wind gust at the DuPage Airport in DuPage County about 3 a.m., while the Chicago Executive Airport in Cook County had a 55 mph wind gust.
ComEd reported that more than 24,000 of its customers remained without power about 7:20 a.m.
The Illinois Department of Transportation said some trees were toppled in Waukegan just before 4 a.m., as the storms pushed across the area.
The National Weather Service said “life-threatening” swim conditions were expected Thursday on Lake Michigan as a cold front moves its way through the area, bringing cooler, less humid air.
According to a beach hazard statement, waves of 4 to 7 feet and rip currents are expected along the lake in Cook County and in northwestern Indiana’s Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties until Friday evening.
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