“Particularly damaging” storms could hit Chicago late Wednesday night after tracking a path across parts of the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.
A derecho, a storm cluster with winds of up to 100 mph that lasts for at least 250 miles, is predicted to move in its classic bowed or concave shape from northern and east central Minnesota into the northern and east central Wisconsin areas, then track southeast into Michigan.
While there is still “a bit of uncertainty” about whether the storm will reach Chicago, it could potentially hit the city about 11 p.m., said weather service meteorologist Jake Petr.
If the storms develop more to the west over north central Minnesota and come down across central Wisconsin, said AccuWeather senior meteorologist Bob Smerbeck, it could put Chicago “right in the crosshairs.”
Derechos are ordinarily seen across the Midwest once or twice a year between May and August, according to the National Weather Service. A hefty derecho hit Chicago in August last year, knocking over trees and causing power outages.
Although it’s too soon to deduce the damage the storms could cause, residents are advised to stay indoors and avoid windows, according to the weather service. In particular, residents of Wisconsin towns such as Green Bay, Milwaukee and Racine and potentially those in the Chicago area should bring in any outdoor furniture or loose structures, and ensure that they have backup power supplies, said AccuWeather meteorologist Smerbeck.
For unhoused people such as those living in tents, strong winds could have life-threatening effects, particularly when interacting against bigger tents, Smerbeck said.
The storms likely will be over by 4 a.m. Thursday, leaving a cold front. There could also be gusty winds Thursday and Friday as a result, said Petr, who advises that swimmers in Lake Michigan exercise caution.