Extreme Climate Prompts A whole bunch of Flight Cancellations at O’Hare Airport


On Monday, more than 300 flights were canceled at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport after severe weather resulted in a ground freeze and an evacuation of the airport’s control tower.

The National Weather Service had been tracking heavy storms in Illinois all Monday afternoon and into the night. At around 7:17 p.m. local time, the weather service said a tornado had been confirmed on the ground in Arlington, Illinois, about 160 miles southwest of Chicago.

About an hour later, the weather service issued a severe thunderstorm warning for areas north and northwest of Chicago, including O’Hare Airport. Winds up to 60 miles per hour, penny-sized hail and a tornado were possible if storms were moving in the area, the weather service said.

“We are currently monitoring the reinforcement of the rotation over O’Hare Airport,” said the weather service on Twitter shortly after the warning of severe thunderstorms was issued

The danger of a possible tornado led to the evacuation of the air traffic control tower from O’Hare, said the FAA.

Those in the tower were evacuated at 7:22 p.m. and returned to the tower about 20 minutes later while air traffic controllers took over in Elgin, Illinois, the agency said.

Thunderstorms and a possible tornado led to a ground stop at the airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Gate holds and taxi delays totaled up to 45 minutes and increased, and incoming flights were delayed an average of 7 hours and 36 minutes, according to the agency.

Kevin Terrell, one of the many people stuck in O’Hare Monday night, said in an interview that he felt “frustrated, angry and tired” about the cancellation.

“I have no idea where to stay tonight,” he said while waiting in line to speak to an airport worker to see when he could finally fly to Atlanta. “There are about 60 people here at the airport, all wondering what they’re going to do. That just sucks. “

According to the Chicago Department of Aviation, 332 flights at O’Hare and 26 flights at Midway International Airport were canceled by 10:00 p.m. local time. It was not immediately clear how many of these flights were canceled due to the severe weather in the region.

Quade Kayle, who was stuck in Boise, Idaho, but was scheduled to fly to Chicago on Monday night, said he was frustrated. “I was ready to be home,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

Severe weather in the Chicago area also resulted in the game between the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers being postponed to Tuesday on Monday night. The team asked fans who had already arrived at the ballpark to vacate the seat shell and seek shelter immediately.

Eduardo Medina contributed to the coverage.