Severe thunderstorms rip through McHenry County area with hail and dangerous rotating winds

Fans wait out the tornado warning before the start of the Crystal Lake South High School basketball sectional semifinal game at Kaneland High School in Maple Park on Feb. 27, 2024.

A line of severe thunderstorms causing hail, dangerous winds and reports of tornadoes, and setting off emergency sirens, ripped through the McHenry County area Tuesday evening.

A severe storm warning and tornado watch remained in effect until 10 p.m. for the region, though earlier tornado warnings for communities including Huntley, Cary and parts of Kane County expired. Another tornado warning for parts of Lake County continued through 8:30 p.m.

As of just after 8 p.m., no damage had been reported to McHenry County Emergency Management, according to preparedness planner Bob Leracz.

“There was rotation seen in the sky up in the Algonquin and Lake in the Hills area, but no touchdowns of tornadoes,” before the storm moved on into Lake County and towards Lake MIchigan, Leracz said.

Primarily the southern part of McHenry County was affected during the storms that rolled through the area. The agency also monitors Facebook and Nextdoor, and had not seen damage reports on those social media sites yet, he said. Neither had damage been reported to area fire departments.

The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for Huntley through 7:30 p.m. and Cary through 7:45 p.m. Tuesday – part of a series of severe weather warnings and watches that encompassed the the entire Northern Illinois region.

Sleet and hail fell across parts of northern Illinois, and tornado warnings were also issued in parts of Lake, Kane, DeKalb and LaSalle counties.

The NWS had said tornadoes were likely with the storm, along with widespread hail and scattered wind gusts of up to 70 mph.

A tornado watch means people in the listed counties should be aware of their environment while keeping an eye on the sky and an ear open to local media for broadcast information.

The NWS issues these tips for a tornado warning:

- Get as low indoors as possible, with basements preferred, and avoid windows.

- Tornadoes can be obscured by rainfall or come at night. If the tornado can be seen or heard, it may be too late.

- Don’t waste time opening or closing windows and doors, as it will not protect the building.

- Interior rooms are preferred if a basement is not available. Those in mobile homes should leave in advance of the storm and find a strong building. If there is no shelter available nearby, get into the nearest ditch, low spot or underground culvert.

- Limit outdoor plans or finish them early when tornadoes are possible, and stay close to a sturdy structure if being outside is absolutely necessary.

- Stay away from doors, windows and outside walls.