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Tornado touches down as storms move across Midwest

Sophia Tareen
Associated Press

Chicago — Powerful storms packing hurricane-force winds and large hail moved across parts of the Midwest Wednesday night, including in Chicago where soccer fans attending the Copa America semifinal at Soldier Field were urged to take immediate shelter.

The National Weather Service reported at least one tornado touched down, near the northern Illinois cities of Amboy in Lee County and Earlville in LaSalle County. There are small towns scattered throughout the area surrounded by farm fields.

In all, about 98 million people stretching from southern Minnesota to the East Coast could see stormy weather, according to the weather service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Wind gusts were projected to be 70 mph or greater in some places, and baseball-size hail was possible, forecasters said.

“There’s the potential for everything right now,” said Amy Seeley, meteorologist with the National Weather Service outside Chicago. “Winds will be the biggest threat.”

The strong band of thunderstorms moving through Chicago forced a delay in the second half of the Copa America semifinal between Chile and Colombia at the home of the Chicago Bears football team. Fans also were asked to take shelter at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, but their game against the Philadelphia Phillies resumed after a 70-minute delay.

Travelers were seeing an impact by early afternoon with cancelations and delays at both of Chicago’s international airports. The Chicago Department of Aviation announced 100 canceled flights at O’Hare and 40 canceled flights at Midway, citing thunderstorms in the area.

Power companies were also bracing for severe weather.

The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. said it had increased staffing at its customer call center and scheduled extra work crews.

Some parts of the country, including New Jersey, were already dealing with the aftermath of earlier storms.

Utility crews in the southern part of the state were restoring power to homes and businesses. Atlantic City Electric said nearly 6,000 homes and businesses remained without power Wednesday, down from more than 34,000 customers on Tuesday.

Severe storms that crossed North Dakota overnight brought strong winds, large hail and a tornado. The National Weather Service reported hail the size of golf balls in McKenzie County, the size of tennis balls in New Town and the size of baseballs in New England, North Dakota. A tornado was spotted in the Watford City area but no damage was reported.