It's not like we didn't know the wind was coming, but when it did show up on Thursday a few hours after a wind advisory was put into effect, it was surprisingly strong for Northern Illinois, even in April.

We're not talking "flying house from Kansas landing on a witch in someplace called Oz" strong winds, but if you had a dog named Toto (or a band, I guess), Thursday was a good day to keep a strong grip on the leash.

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Thursday's Winds Were Really Cranked Up, But A Long Way From An Illinois (or Rockford) Record

So how hard do the winds need to blow for us to have to update the record books? WGN-TV Meteorologist Tom Skilling, writing a couple of years back for the Chicago Tribune gave the lowdown on record-setting wind speeds:

Chicago's record high wind occurred Feb. 12, 1894, when the official site was atop the Federal Building, some 300 feet above street level. During a fierce winter storm, northeast winds gusted to 87 m.p.h. (during which winds near 70 m.p.h. were recorded for more than 10 consecutive hours, causing massive drifting of 10 inches of new snow that had fallen). The highest wind in March was 84 m.p.h. reported at O'Hare around 4:15 p.m. on March 27, 1991, during a fast-moving thunderstorm that produced hail and 1.05 inches of rain.

I'd love to share Rockford's all-time record for highest winds and/or wind gusts, but while I could find lots of other Rockford weather records, I couldn't find anything on wind.

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Here Are Some Of The Wind Speeds Recorded Throughout Northern Illinois Yesterday

Before I get to that, if you were wondering what the highest wind speed ever recorded on Earth might be, it's...253mph on Barrow Island, Australia on April 10th, 1996. 2nd place goes to Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. They hit a wind speed of 231mph on April 12, 1934.

Around these parts on Thursday (numbers from the National Weather Service):

  • Rockford: Sustained winds of 30mph, gusting up to 48mph
  • Chicago O'Hare: Gusts of 59mph
  • Chicago Midway: Gusts of 59mph
  • Dekalb Airport: Gusts of 48mph
  • DuPage Airport: Gusts of 58mph
  • Waukegan Airport: Gusts of 63mph
  • Harvard: Gusts of 56mph

The biggest gusts of Thursday went to Indiana, where Porter County saw gusts in excess of 64mph.

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