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Strong Thunderstorm Damages Willis Tower

By Soyoung Kwak in News on Jun 19, 2010 6:30PM

Two rounds of severe thunderstorms rolled through Chicago yesterday, causing damage throughout the area including 1,100 fallen trees and many broken windows. As of this afternoon, tens of thousands are still without power. The first round of storms moved through Chicago around 4:30 p.m. with the later storm hitting around 9 p.m. Strong winds clocked in around 70-77 mph in the first storm left their mark on the buildings downtown. Although no one was injured, several windows at the Sears Willis Tower blew out. Chicago Battalion Chief Michael Gubricky reported that "a window on the 29th floor in an air conditioning mechanical room and a window in an unoccupied office on the 25th floor blew out," in addition to a window in an unoccupied offices on the 12th and 28th floors cracking. One office worker sums up his experience inside the Willis Tower during the storm:

Sean Maloney was on the 68th floor of the building Friday afternoon when he said he felt the building begin to sway. Open doors started slamming shut. A colleague suddenly slid across the floor in his chair. Looking out toward the west, Maloney could see a dark wall of clouds bearing down on the city.

"This was the worst I've seen and I've been here ten years," said Maloney. "It was like Ghostbusters."

In addition to the broken and cracked windows at Willis Tower, some other downtown buildings suffered damage. Blocks of concrete fell from the Aon Center and onto the sidewalk yesterday, and there were more shattered windows at Block 37 on State Street. The streets around the Willis Tower have been closed from pedestrian traffic until the windows are replaced and repaired.