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National Weather Service confirms tornado touched down in Waukegan

The National Weather Service has confirmed that an EF-1 scale tornado touched down Tuesday evening on the north side of Waukegan, causing a car to rollover, trees to be uprooted and a Taco Bell window to shatter.

The National Weather Service said the tornado began around 6:40 p.m. Tuesday on the north side of Waukegan near Yorkhouse Road and Lewis Avenue. It traveled east along the border of Beach Park and Waukegan before going over Lake Michigan.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Eric Lenning confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it was a tornado and later in the day the NWS said it was rated as an EF-1.

A tornado was spotted in Waukegan moving towards Lake Michigan Tuesday evening | Photo: Spencer Dant.

The tornado produced a very narrow damage path for approximately two miles until it got to Lake Michigan, where it formed into a waterspout, the NWS said.

Commercial buildings suffered minor damage, including a Taco Bell that had debris break through a drive-thru window, and tree damage was reported in the area and in Lyons Woods Forest Preserve.

There were no tornado watches or warnings issued and the tornado sirens were not activated. The Lake County Skywarn group said that smaller tornadoes are more difficult for the radar to detect.

“Small EF-0 and some EF-1 tornadoes do not have deep circulations with the supercell storm and can form under the radar beam. This is where the storm spotter becomes very important. It takes on the ground reporting to see some of these tornadoes,” the Lake County Skywarn group said.

“Most small tornadoes last from 1-4 minutes. So by the time it’s seen, reported to the NWS and police, it’s already over,” the group added.

Multiple witnesses in the area reported their cars shook as the tornado moved to the east and in one incident, a car was pushed into a pole, a video posted on social media showed.

The drive-thru window at Taco Bell, 3200 North Lewis Avenue in Waukegan, was shattered by debris | Photo by Barb Satinsky.

A car rolled over onto its roof near where the tornado is believed to have begun and one person suffered minor injuries. No one else was injured during the tornado, fire officials added.

Emergency crews also responded to numerous reports of wires down, trees down and other related calls. Clean-up crews were seen out Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning removing debris in the Waukegan area.

ComEd responded to power outages and has since restored all power that was impacted from the tornado.

The National Weather Service said that they are continuing to work with Waukegan and Lake County Emergency Management.


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