A shelf cloud precedes a severe thunderstorm moving into Dyer, Ind., Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Cloud tops as high as 60,000 feet came with the thunderstorms, which brought torrential rain and powerful winds. | Guy Rhodes~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 15, 2013 7:00PM
A number of power outages were reported in Lake County as the large storm forecast for Wednesday evening began to move through the area, knocking down branches and power lines.
Hail and large amounts of rain were reported. High winds caused a semitrailer to tip over on Interstate 65 just south of U.S. 30, according to Indiana State Police. A second semitrailer jack-knifed farther south on the highway near Indiana 2.
Winds blew off the roof of a house in Lakes of the Four Seasons, Lake County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Patti Van Til said. No one was injured at the home.
According to NIPSCO’s website, almost 32,000 homes in Lake County were without power by about 8 p.m., with Merrillville, Schererville, Crown Point and Gary reporting the highest numbers of outages. About 35,000 homes were effected across the utility’s service area.
Lake Station reported some of the first power outages about 6 p.m.
Crown Point was listed as having more than 12,000 homes without power.
“Just about every community in Lake County has outages,” said NIPSCO spokesman Larry Graham. “But it looks like the southern part of the county got hit the hardest.”
Reports of 45 mph winds were recorded in Dyer, and heavy rain and occasional hail fell throughout the region. The National Weather Service said the strongest blast reported in northern Indiana was a 60 mph wind near LaPorte.
NIPSCO said it had increased staffing at customer call centers and had put work crews in the field to respond quickly to problems.
The forecast for the area was ominous.
“We’re talking a major threat here. We’re talking damaging winds, large hail, a chance of tornadoes and also very heavy rainfall,” National Weather Service meteorologist Andrew Krein said. “There’s a flash flood watch out for basically all of northern Illinois and the Chicago metro area and into Lake and Porter counties in Indiana.”
Airlines canceled more than 120 flights at O’Hare International Airport due to the storms.
The weather service said the line of thunderstorms knocked down trees and power lines as it crossed from Illinois into Indiana with reports of golf ball-sized hail damaging cars in Winamac, midway between Lafayette and South Bend. Meteorologists had said the storms could create a destructive weather phenomenon known as a derecho.
The threat of severe weather was expected to last until midnight.
AP contributed to this report.