CHICAGO (AP) — Intense thunderstorms and tornadoes swept across the Midwest Sunday, causing damage in several central Illinois communities while sending people to their basements for shelter and even prompting officials at Soldier Field in Chicago to evacuate the stands and delay the Bears game.
The community of Washington in central Illinois appeared particularly hard hit, and a state official said that emergency crews were racing to the area amid reports that people had been trapped in buildings. But communications were spotty and Patti Thompson of the Illinois Department of Emergency Management said it was difficult to get information from the scene.
As the storm darkened downtown Chicago after noon, the Chicago Bears – Baltimore Ravens game was delayed and fans were ordered out of the stands and players led off the field.
Despite the reports of tornadoes, there were not yet any confirmed reports of injuries.
Weather service officials confirmed that a tornado touched down just before 11 a.m. near the central Illinois community of East Peoria, but authorities did not immediately have damage or injury reports. Within an hour, the weather service said that tornadoes had touched down in Washington, Metamora, Morton and other central communities, though officials could not say whether it was one tornado touching down or several. Weather officials said it was moving northeast about 60 mph.
According to agency officials, parts of Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan and western Ohio are at the greatest risk of seeing tornadoes, large hail and damaging winds throughout the day Sunday. Strong winds and atmospheric instability were expected to sweep across the central Plains during the day before pushing into the mid-Atlantic states and northeast by evening. Many of the storms were expected to become supercells, with the potential to produce tornadoes, large hail and destructive winds.
In Chicago, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications issued a warning to fans attending making their way to Soldier Field to watch the Bears-Ravens game. It urged fans ''to take extra precautions and ... appropriate measures to ensure their personal safety.''
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