Weather doesn’t usually dominate NFL storylines until late in the season, but in Chicago and other Midwestern cities, they’re preparing for severe weather.
Chicago is expected to bear the brunt of the storms, with the Bears hosting the Baltimore Ravens in a noon CST game. The wind at Soldier Field was kicking up during warmups, with the team bracing for storms (including the possibility of tornado warnings) that are expected to arrive around halftime and intensify in the second half.
“We’ve seen all kinds of weather in Chicago,” Tim LeVebour, Soldier Field’s general manager, said (via NBC Chicago’s Grizzly Detail blog). “We always talk about Bears weather, Bear football weather… this might be a little extreme.”
The team also is removing objects that could become airborne and reviewing evacuation procedures. “The priority is to get fans to safe zones in the event of severe weather,” he said.
LeFevour estimated that it would take 15-20 minutes to evacuate fans.
NBC report that this morning the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications warned of the possibility of wind gusts topping 70 miles per hour, along with lightning and large hail.
— StaceyDales (@StaceyDales) November 17, 2013
— Marcus Gilmer (@marcusgilmer) November 17, 2013
— NEXLAB Storm Chase (@cod_stormchase) November 17, 2013
— Cheryl Scott (@CherylScottWX) November 17, 2013
— Adam Jahns (@adamjahns) November 17, 2013
The stadium announcer at Soldier Field just cautioned fans of the chance of a tornado in the area today. #unsettling
— Gerry Sandusky (@GerrySandusky) November 17, 2013
There are games in Buffalo, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh that could be affected, too.