It seems that during one of the worst droughts in decades, the only way the area around Chicago can get rain is by getting pounded with severe storms. Tuesday morning’s round of severe weather was no surprise to many. Impressive parameters for severe storms were noted hours before they actually arrived. With the record heat and humidity comes elevated levels of atmospheric instability. What typically happens is the dome of hot air responsible is capped to thunderstorm development, except for the outermost edge. This edge is dubbed “the ring of fire” and is an area favored for powerful thunderstorm development as storms are able to feed off the energy provided by the hot and humid airmass as well as the jet stream energy and cooler air to the north.
Chicago is geographically located in an area that is quite prone to being caught in the ring of fire. The results are repeated rounds of severe storms. Usually forming in Wisconsin, Minnesota or the Dakotas, and moving southeast into the area as the storms ride the edge of the heat dome that keeps the plains hot and dry all summer. On Tuesday July 24th a complex of thunderstorms formed in Southwest Wisconsin and began the treck southeastward, affecting Chicago around 630am. Officially at O’hare and Midway Airports winds were measured at 58 and 61mph respectively, but many areas saw gusts higher than that. 175,000 were left without power, and numerous trees came crashing down on houses and cars.
Video of the storm:
Storm and Damage photos:
Incredible shot by Lorraine Mahoney, a good friend here at Aerostorms, of the storms as they approach Chicago’s western suburbs.
The storms approach the heart of the Chicago metro area.
Radar image of the storms as they approached.
LSR icons for thunderstorm damage across the area:
Storm reports [The SPC cuts off storm reports at 12z which is 7am CDT, so don't be fooled by the date showing 7/23]
The storm complex went on to produce damage all the way through eastern Kentucky, before finally weakening.
Due to the fast moving nature of the storms, not much rainfall occurred to bust the drought, but every bit helps. With another day of 100 degree plus heat coming Wednesday, the same areas will once again be under the gun for another round of severe weather. Heat advisories are posted. As always, you can follow the latest on the Aerostorms facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/TornadoChasing or stay tuned to the National Weather Service and local media outlets.