A derecho – a dangerous, ferocious wall of wind – began lashing the Chicago area Monday evening.
The derecho hit Chicago in the early afternoon and the National Weather Service warned that travel plans should be altered and loose objects should be secured before the storm began.
The storm brought winds of more than 80 miles per hour throughout Illinois, ripping through buildings, power lines and trees.
According to ABC Chicago, hundreds of thousands of people are without power due to the storms. Downed branches and trees, flooding, car crashes and road blockages were reported throughout Chicago and most of Illinois.
Trees around 70 to 80 years old were torn to shreds by the high winds in River Grove, also reported by ABC Chicago.
A local utility company reported at least 117,000 power customers were without electricity by early evening.
Derechoes are often referred to as inland hurricanes due to their hurricane-like conditions, in terms of ferocious wind and torrential rain.
“People should take these storms seriously,” National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Barjenbruch said. “These winds are incredibly strong.”
The windstorm ripped through portions of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. As of mid-afternoon Monday, over 420,000 customers were without power in Iowa, according to PowerOutage.us. Nearly 40,000 were also powerless in Nebraska.
There were several reports of wind gusts exceeding 100 mph in Iowa, including a gust of 112 mph in Midway, the Weather Channel said.
In order to be classified as a derecho, the storm must include wind gusts of at least 58 mph and its wind damage swath must extend from 250 to 400 miles. The term "straight-line wind damage" sometimes is used to describe derecho damage.
Contributing: The Associated Press