Why It’s Important to cover severe storms in Chicago area on TV

Posted: April 9, 2010 in 1

Chicago – Chicago is known for its casual spring storms. But it’s also known for thunderstorms that can be costly, dangerous and deadly. When the severe storms happen, timing is critical. The faster you know about the storm, the more time you have to prepare.

Live Power Doppler with 1 million watts of power gets information up to six minutes faster than any other radar in the Midwest. Fox Chicago does not waste time wondering about the weather. When it’s coming, we see it first.

The impacts of a storm are often unpredictable. Will the hail damage your car? Will the wind blow away your expensive picnic set up on the back patio? Will the storm be so bad it causes a deadly auto accident? Could the storm blow off rooftops? Would lightning set a house on fire? All of these things and more can happen when weather turns severe.

Live television is the quickest, most effective way to get a severe weather message to a mass audience. And every home should have a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio to sound off alerts immediately in their home, but even those alerts can be slower than information received from a live meteorologist on television.

At the TV station we do not always have control over when commercials air or when to break in to programming to share the message. However, I always do my best to consult my colleagues about the threats, risks and the disruptions to the viewers. I try to be urgent with the message and give just enough details to keep people prepared.

Monday was our first storm outbreak of the season. As a front approached, the storm had caused damage all across Iowa with wind and hail and even some flooding. I watched as Live Power Doppler indicated changes in the atmosphere to support severe weather. With the first report of hail in our area I made the decision to warn people that the night would present severe weather dangers.

I briefly interrupted programming for about 30 seconds. This interruption came more than 15 minutes before the first watches and warnings were issued by the National Weather Service. At Fox Chicago we want you to have the best, clearest weather advantage.

  • Be the first to find out if your power will be out so that you can get the generator ready for power outages and prevent basement flooding.
  • Be the one to warn your loved ones headed out that severe weather is possible.
  • Be the first to know the weather that can threaten property and life.

I may not always make you happy when I break into your favorite program. But I will do it if it’s necessary. I will do it with responsibility. And the entire Fox Chicago News team will cover the weather with your interests in mind.
After all, our families face the same weather that yours are facing. We want to keep Chicago safe.

A Word From our viewer: Grace in Addison

We live in Addison and at approx 1030pm it felt our house was being hit by a tornado. The entire house shook including the beds. The entire street has some kind of damage. We had our house damaged with missing pieces of roof, fallen fence, broken outdoor lights and several other misc damages. Neighbors had siding completely ripped off of their homes.

We live on Grove Ave in Addison.

April 5, 2010 storm links:

Tornados are not the only danger with severe weather. Winds and Lightning can be very threatening and flash floods are the number one weather killer in the world.

Links to damaging and deadly Chicago weather:

Deadly Wind Storms in Chicago :

In Chicago in 2002, scaffolding outside the John Hancock Center plunged more than 40 floors to the ground during a windstorm, killing three women in cars. Still, said industry experts, those incidents are rare. The rise in construction fatalities can be explained by a deadly mix of untrained immigrant workers, lax attention to safety regulations and profit-minded contractors who cut corners in all areas from labor to materials.
Wind Storm Kills Man in Wrigleyville:

On Aug. 15, 2007, a supercell thunderstorm moved southeast from near Gary and Highland in Lake County, Ind., to near Kouts in Porter County Ind. The storm produced a 10 mile wide swath of 50 to 70 mph winds with isolated pockets of winds of 90 to 110 mph. The storms knocked down tree limbs and snapped and uprooted entire trees. Some trees fell on vehicles and roofs of homes and farm buildings. Winds also flattened corn fields, blew down billboards and road signs, and destroyed a large horse barn. Twenty three large steel truss towers for power lines were toppled near Kouts. 

About a week later, on Aug. 23, a derecho blasted northeast Illinois and far Northwest Indiana. Two short thunderstorm lines rushed across the area producing wind damage. (An area of thunderstorms that produces a long continuous path of intense wind damage is known as a derecho.) One line of storms cut a path from Ogle County, through DeKalb, Kane, DuPage, and northern Cook Counties. Another area of storms moved from LaSalle County to Grundy and Will Counties and moved into northwest Indiana. Both storms produced winds in excess of 50 to 60 mph. Winds were estimated to be 80 to 100 mph in a few spots. An EF1 tornado spun up briefly at Winfield. The thunderstorms snapped and uprooted thousands of trees. Many trees and limbs fell on vehicles, homes and power lines. More than 600,000 customers lost power. Many residents and public works officials in DuPage and northern Cook Counties said it was the worst damage they had seen in many years. A warehouse was damaged in West Chicago, injuring 40 people. A man was killed by falling debris in the Wrigleyville neighborhood of the north side of Chicago.

Berrien County Severe Weather

  • July 9, 1926
  • Deaths – 3
  • Injuries – 3

An F2 Tornado began in LaPorte County just north of Hudson Lake, Indiana and plowed towards Buchanan. Bachelors’ Island in the Saint Joseph River near Buchanan was virtually stripped of trees, and thee women having lunch were killed in a cabin on the island.[9][10] A 22-year old woman, her 5-year old daughter and the woman’s 8-year old sister lost their lives while the husband and two other young family members were injured. As the family ate their lunch at noon when the tornado signaled its approach with a loud roar, suddenly swooped over the bluffs that line the river and literally pounced on their cabin. When they heard the roar, the woman went to the window and screamed for everyone to get underneath the table. The male holding his son did not move but the woman and two of the girls hid under the table. The tornado hit at that moment and leveled their cabin along with 3 others on the island, which were not occupied. The women under the table were all killed. The male was carried several yards and was found standing on his head besides a tree and unconscious. The son he was holding was found perched high in the tree branches and only slightly injured.

Kailee Loesch, Chris Carr and Steve McCloud contributed to this report.


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