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Tornadoes touch down near Chicago’s O’Hare airport, outside city

Storm clouds pass over downtown Chicago and the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city heading east over Lake Michigan as the National Weather Service continued to issue multiple tornado warnings in the greater metropolitan area Wednesday. (Charles Rex Arbogast/AP)
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A tornado touched down late Wednesday near Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, prompting a temporary ground stop at one of the busiest airports in the country and at the nearby Midway International Airport, which eased into a departure delay for passengers by 7:45 p.m. Central time.

Tornadoes were also spotted in towns outside Chicago before the National Weather Service alerts passed Wednesday evening.

“Our forecast area is currently tornado warning free!” the National Weather Service tweeted. “We are still monitoring a few areas of weak rotation along a line over Central Cook County so we are not ready to give the all clear just yet though chances are decreasing.”

More than 2 million people were potentially exposed under the tornado alert in place until 7:45 p.m. Central time, according to the Weather Service. The agency had warned earlier Wednesday evening of a tornado near O’Hare.

“A confirmed tornado is on the ground near O’Hare airport!” the Weather Service tweeted. “This tornado has been touching the ground intermittently so far and is moving east. There are additional circulations along the line south of O’Hare. Seek shelter if in the warned area!”

O’Hare’s official Twitter account urged passengers to follow the instructions of airport personnel while the severe weather was imminent, and social media users said shelter-in-place orders had been issued inside the facility.

Social media users reported seeing debris from the tornado flying over the West Town neighborhood in Chicago. Video also surfaced showing a tornado touching ground in Elgin, some 35 miles northwest of Chicago.

A local reporter shared pictures of what appeared to have been damage from the storm in McCook, about 14 miles southwest of Chicago.