By Greg McCune
CHICAGO, June 12 (Reuters) - A violent storm swept across
seven states of the upper Midwest on Wednesday, spawning at
least nine tornadoes as well as damaging hail and high winds,
and causing transportation chaos in Chicago, America's third
The storm was described by the National Weather Service as
'very dangerous' because of its potential to produce tornadoes
and 'derechos' - storms in which wind speeds increase as they
Menacing dark clouds hung early on Wednesday evening over
downtown Chicago, where many people left work early from
high-rise buildings in order to beat the storm home. Others were
stuck in traffic jams or on trains delayed by the weather.
Numerous tornado warnings were issued for parts of the
Midwest and there were preliminary reports of at least nine
twisters touching down, all of them in Iowa, the weather service
said. A tornado warning tells residents to find shelter
Benjamin Jeffers, 18, an employee at the Belmond, Iowa
Country Club, about 95 miles (150 km) north of Des Moines, said
he and coworkers fled to the basement after one of two funnel
'Debris started flying around the golf course and it started
to get real close and the other one started to get way big,' he
said. 'It sounded like a big train without the horn. A rumble
kind of.' The club escaped damage, he said.
Local media also reported a tornado touching down briefly
about 30 miles (50 miles) from Chicago in Illinois.
There were no immediate reports of substantial damage,
injuries or death from the storms.
Some 12 million people were in the highest risk area,
including the densely populated Chicago metropolitan area,
according to the weather service. In addition to northern
Illinois, the storm was affecting Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota,
Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio.
Four lines of Chicago's commuter rail service were halted
during the evening rush hour. Three of them later resumed
service. Chicago's O'Hare airport, one of the nation's busiest,
was facing flight delays of about an average of 90 minutes, and
some 227 flights had been canceled, according to Flightaware.
At Chicago Midway Airport, all inbound flights were being
held at their origin until the storm passed.
A Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at a downtown park at
which thousands of music fans were expected, was canceled.
The Chicago White Sox baseball game was postponed, and the
National Hockey League said it was monitoring the weather as
some 20,000 fans gathered at the downtown United Center for the
Stanley Cup finals game between the Chicago Blackhawks and
Chicago's office of emergency management urged residents to
stay indoors as the storm bore down on the city.
Winds of up to 75 miles per hour were expected from the
storms, according to the weather service.
Severe weather also was possible for a portion of the
Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, it said.
The U.S. tornado season was relatively quiet until May 20,
when a monster EF5 storm, the highest rating, hit the Oklahoma
city suburb of Moore, killing 24 people and flattening whole
sections of the town. Another wave of storms hit Oklahoma state
on May 31, killing about 20 people.
(Additional reporting by Brendan O'Brien and Mary Wisniewski;
Editing by Bob Burgdorfer and David Brunnstrom)
Keywords: USA TORNADOES/
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