Winds whip trees as brief storm batters region

2012-08-04T20:36:00Z 2012-08-06T10:50:19Z Winds whip trees as brief storm batters regionBy Jeff Burton, (219) 548-4354

Fallen tree branches left nearly 60,000 residents without electricity Saturday afternoon as a line of strong storms swept through Northwest Indiana and the Chicago area.

With gusts topping out near 70 mph, according to the National Weather Service, winds whipped through the region, slamming a large tree onto a minivan in the 3300 block of Highway Avenue in Highland. A child was reportedly injured in that incident, though police were unable to confirm that information.

In Porter County, authorities said 911 dispatchers received a report of a possible tornado along U.S. 6 in Portage. Police later said that report was unsubstantiated and it appeared the winds continued snapping tree limbs and damaging property as the storm moved out of the Calumet Region.

In LaPorte County, there was a tornado warning issued northeast of LaPorte, but no confirmed touchdowns in the Rolling Prairie and New Prairie areas.

NIPSCO reported more than 58,000 Northwest Indiana residents without power during the early evening. Large clusters of outages were reported in Lake County, north of U.S. 30, and in Crown Point, where the storm briefly halted action at the Lake County Fair.

High winds and the accompanying deluge damaged a number of outdoor displays at the Lake County Fairgrounds and falling debris caused a minor injury to a worker attempting to close the doors of the Industrial Building as the storm began sweeping through.

It was much the same in the Lansing area, where the first line of winds from the west knocked down a number of road construction barriers and toppled power lines along Thornton-Lansing Road, briefly trapping a driver in his car.

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