SPRINGFIELD, Ill. A tornado warning interrupted Illinois lawmakers Friday evening, sending them scurrying to the state Capitol basement as warning sirens blared and storms moved through central Illinois.
Lawmakers, lobbyists, reporters and secretaries packed the tunnels beneath the 120-year-old building for about 45 minutes as powerful wind, hail and rain pelted Springfield. Legislators returned to work soon after the warning was lifted.
The National Weather Service issued tornado warnings for several Illinois counties but had not confirmed one had touched down by Friday evening.
Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson said a mall was closed as a precaution.
Patti Thompson, a spokeswoman with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said the agency had not received reports of significant damage or injuries.
"There was some hail, gusty winds," Williamson said. "But no reports of touchdowns."
ComEd said 37,500 customers were without power in northern Illinois, down from a high of 69,000.
Winds in the region were enhanced by a string of thunderstorms, said National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez. Gusts up to 60 miles per hour were reported near the Wisconsin border.
A semitrailer was blown from a roadway near Marengo, and a building at the Rockford airport lost its roof, he said.
Strong wind damaged a gas station and blew a tree onto a house in Tolono, about 130 miles south of Chicago, emergency workers told the National Weather Service.
In nearby Sidney, a fertilizer business was damaged and power lines were knocked down, the weather service said.
Emergency workers also reported hail over 4 inches in diameter in the area.