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Storms drop hail, a little rain, but mild weekend continues

Short-lived but strong storms moved through the Chicago area midday today, leaving little real rain in most places, but dumping hail up to 1-1/2 inches in diameter in some western sububs.

Forecasters had been predicting a sunnny afternoon and near record-high temperatures today, but while the air was warmer than normal, it peaked at 66 degrees at O'Hare at 5 p.m., short of the record high of 71 set in 1949. Northerly Island on the lakefront did mark a temperature of 68 at the same time, while Midway Airport hit 68 just before 4 p.m., according to the National Weather Service.

While a warm front moved into southern Wisconsin this morning, a secondary warm front developed across northern Illinois, triggering a round of showers and thunderstorms that brought heavy downpours, gusty winds and even some hail.

Bolingbrook saw hail stones that reached 1-1/2 inches in diameter--ping-pong ball size. Other areas receiving significant hail included Naperville, with penny-size hail, Oak Brook, with nickel- size hail. Many locations around the Chicago area reported pea- to marble-size hail.

But rainfall in the west suburbs, which saw some of the largest hail, only reached a quarter-inch in Aurora, and less than a quarter- inch at DuPage County Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

In Chicago, a thunderstorm apparently resulted in a lightning strike on a building at Lincoln Avenue and School Street about 12:40 p.m. Concrete or stone from the top of the building fell to the street, causing police to block off traffic in the area this afternoon, said Chicago Police News Affairs Officer Daniel O'Brien.

While the city sat in clouds and lingering showers, areas Downstate enjoyed a mostly sunny Saturday afternoon with temperatures in the lower 70s and gust south-southwest winds. As the afternoon wears on, showers should end in the Chicago area with some clearing expected allowing temperatures to climb into the middle and upper 60s with a few areas even reaching70 degrees. It’s expected to dip down to the mid-50s tonight.

The mild weather—and chance of storms—should continue tomorrow, with a slight chance of thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon and a high in the lower 60s.

The warm spell is expected to end Sunday night, as lows drop to the upper 30s. On Monday, highs are expected to remain below 40, wioth more seasonal temperatures the rest of the week.

For more details, check the Chicago Weather Center.

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