Bad weather put a damper on some Fourth of July festivities this week. Thunderstorms and excessive heat mixed with firework celebrations made for a life-threatening holiday in Illinois.
Some cities, like Aurora and Naperville, were forced to evacuate parks and cancel fireworks hours ahead of scheduled events. The roof of a Naperville house also caught on fire due to a lightning strike.
Dr. Victor Gensini, professor of Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences at NIU, said that the cities that went through with their firework shows were taking a real risk.
“You have to have somebody on duty that understands watching radar, to make a decision to cancel these fireworks," Gensini said. "There were a lot people outside last night in the proximity of thunderstorms that were sort of unnecessary. They could’ve been indoors or in safe places.”
In Rock Island, two people died and five were injured due to a falling branch at a fireworks display July 3. The cause of the accident has yet to be determined. Two people in Sheridan were struck by lightning and another person in Chicago.
“Lightning can strike tens of miles away from these storms, so you don’t actually have to be impacted by precipitation to get struck by lightning,” Gensini said.
Gensini said those who are outside in the coming days should stay alert and avoid standing under tall objects.