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Incoming storms ground at least 750 flights at Chicago airports

CHICAGO -- Weather is causing delays and more than 750 flights to be canceled at Chicago airports.

The Chicago Department of Aviation said Thursday morning that at least 450 flights were canceled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 300 flights were canceled at Midway International Airport.

The cancellations come about a week after sabotage at a suburban Chicago air traffic control center caused more than 2,000 canceled flights, disrupting travel nationwide.

On Thursday, officials cited weather for the cancellations and delays. Southwest Airlines said it was cancelling all its flights from Midway after noon on Thursday due to the expected storms.

"We always coordinate with Air Traffic Control when we anticipate storms will disrupt the airspace and, with an 80 percent coverage of rain forecast for Chicago, these proactive cancellations are aimed at minimizing surprises for our Customers - keeping them from spending extra time at the airport or on aircraft, etc." Southwest spokesman Dan Landson told CBS Chicago. "We expect some delays, as well, and they should check for more information."

In this Monday, Sept. 29, 2014 courtroom sketch, Thirty-six-year-old Brian Howard, right, of Naperville, Ill., and his attorney Ron Safer, second right, appear before federal judge Michael T. Mason, left, along with prosecutor, Andrew Polovin. AP Photo/Tom Gianni

Former FAA contract worker Brian Howard has been charged with destruction of aircraft facilities for allegedly setting a fire at the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora on Friday and then attempting suicide.

Howard described himself as "stoned and nervous" on Facebook minutes before the fire, sources told CBS Chicago. He faces a maximum of 20 years and a massive fine if convicted.

The damage shut down all the radar and communications systems and crippled air traffic for days in an out of O'Hare and Midway airports.

FAA officials say technicians are working around-the-clock to restore telecommunications services at the center, but that the repairs may take two weeks to complete.

On Wednesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the Federal Aviation Administration needed to "work harder and better and smarter" to restore operations at the airports.

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