Severe Weather Prompts Hundreds of Flight Cancellations at O’Hare Airport

The National Weather Service had been tracking severe weather in Illinois throughout Monday, including a rotating storm over the airport.,


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Severe storms prompt hundreds of flight cancellations at O’Hare Airport.

A rain delay before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on Monday night. It was eventually postponed until Tuesday.Credit…Jon Durr/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

Aug. 9, 2021Updated 11:20 p.m. ET

More than 300 flights were canceled at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Monday after severe weather prompted a ground stop and an evacuation of the airport’s control tower.

The National Weather Service had been tracking severe storms in Illinois throughout Monday afternoon and into the night. Around 7:17 p.m. local time, the Weather Service said a tornado had been confirmed on the ground in Arlington, Ill., about 100 miles southwest of Chicago.

About an hour later, the Weather Service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for areas north and northwest of Chicago, including O’Hare Airport. Winds up to 60 m.p.h., penny-size hail and a tornado were possible with storms moving in the area, the Weather Service said.

“We are currently monitoring strengthening rotation over O’Hare Airport,” the Weather Service said on Twitter, moments after the severe thunderstorm warning was issued

The threat of a possible tornado led to the evacuation of the O’Hare air traffic control tower, the F.A.A. said.

Those in the tower were evacuated at 7:22 p.m. and returned to the tower about 20 minutes later, while air traffic controllers in Elgin, Ill., took over, the agency said.

Thunderstorms and a possible tornado prompted a ground stop at the airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Gate holds and taxi delays were up to 45 minutes and increasing, and arriving flights were being delayed an average of 7 hours and 36 minutes, according to the agency.

Kevin Terrell, one of the many people stuck at O’Hare on Monday night, said in an interview that he was feeling “frustrated, annoyed and tired” about the cancellation.

“I have no idea where I’m staying tonight,” he said as he waited in line to speak with a worker at the airport, trying to see when he could finally fly to Atlanta. “There’s like 60 people here at the airport all wondering what they’re going to do. This just sucks.”

By 10 p.m. local time, 332 flights had been canceled at O’Hare on Monday, and 26 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. It was not immediately clear how many of those flights were canceled because of severe weather in the area.

Quade Kayle, who was stuck in Boise, Idaho, but was supposed to be flying into Chicago on Monday night, said he was feeling frustrated. “I was ready to be home,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

Severe weather in the Chicago area also caused Monday night’s game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers to be postponed until Tuesday. The team asked fans who had already arrived at the ballpark to clear the seating bowl and seek shelter immediately.

Eduardo Medina contributed reporting.

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