After dangerous Chicago winds started causing havoc in Chicago’s loop on Friday afternoon, the Chicago Fire Department found it necessary to evacuate some buildings for safety’s sake, according to ABC News on Friday evening. The Chicago Fire Department evacuated buildings located at 150, 180 and 191 North Wacker Drive in the downtown area. Debris which fell due to the high winds included broken glass. The falling debris which continued to be blown around the north and northwest Loop area resulted in many closures which obviously had an extremely negative impact on transportation during Chicago’s typically horrendous rush hour travel times on a Friday afternoon.
City officials involved with the situation assert that debris appeared to be falling from the construction sites ongoing at two locations. The constructions sites are located at 150 North Riverside and 444 West Lake Street. Both are located on the Chicago Loop’s northwest corner. Debris from those locations were seen blowing around blocks away from the destination point. As many as seven of the construction workers at those sites had to wait for a safe time to evacuate the buildings due to the high winds which kept them trapped until 7 p.m. It was later determined that debris was part of the structure for the base of a crane and not loose materials being blown from the construction sites. The crane, it was reported, was not in any danger of falling over or being blown off the site.
Pedestrians as well as motorists were advised by the Fire Department to stay out of the northwest vicinity of the Chicago Loop until winds die down. The winds finally began to diminish – but not totally dissipate – sometime after 6 p.m. After winds die down, naturally, the city will need time to remove debris from the streets to make them passible by vehicles again. Incredibly, there were only reports of close-calls to injuries including a woman whose taxi cab ride was attacked by falling glass and debris. No injuries have been reported.
The winds reportedly swept through the area at more than 60 miles per hour. After 6 p.m., they were forecast to diminish. The winds did diminish at the rate of approximately 10 miles per hour after 6 p.m. According to NBC News, the high winds brought trouble for electricity in the area as well. There were 400 crews out in Chicago and the nearby suburbs to restore power. As of 8 p.m., there were still some 189,000 customers without power. And, the high winds brought near-record high temperatures. The record high for Chicago on this date was 65 degrees. Today, the mercury reached 62 degrees. The Feb. 19 average is only 34 degrees in the “windy” city. Basically, it’s a great day for Al Gore and his ilk.