Torrential rains pounded the city and the suburbs overnight, flooding streets and underpasses and turning expressways into parking lots — turning the morning commute, not to mention morning forays into flooded basements -- into a miserable experience for many area residents.
“Unfortunately it looks like we’re going to be stuck in this (weather) pattern through the morning and possibly into the afternoon,” Kevin Birk, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said.
The Edens Expressway was completely shut down after cars have stalled in standing water on the Edens between Foster to Touhy and Winnetka Road to Willow, according to Illinois State Police District Chicago. As of about 10:40 a.m., a state trooper said the water was going down, “little by little,” but the road had not been reopened to traffic in the affect area.
Westbound lanes of the Eisenhower Expressway had been closed at St. Charles Road; eastbound lanes were closed near Route 20, and lanes were also closed at Mannheim Road Thursday morning, but by about 10:30 a.m., those areas had been reopened to traffic, the trooper said.
States of emergency were called in at least five west and northwest suburbs Thursday morning because of flooding and stressed emergency response systems. In west suburban Hillside, a nursing home, as well as an apartment building and a condo building, were evacuated because of flooding.
A large sinkhole swallowed three vehicles in the 9600 block of South Houston Avenue at 5:20 a.m., though no one was injured, Chicago Police said. A state police car was also stalled in standing water at the Addison Exit in the northbound lanes of Kennedy Expressway, state police said.
Emergency management officials throughout the area were urging motorists not to drive through flooded roadways. While drivers may think the roadway is passable, the water tends to be deeper than one would think and can hide hazards that can disable vehicles in the middle of the flooded roadway. One of these vehicles was a school bus that got stuck on a flooded road in an unincorporated area of Oswego in Kendall County. There were only five people on the bus at the time and all were safely taken off the bus, sheriff’s police said.
The rains made the Chicago River swell by roughly six feet, triggering the locks to open and reverse the flow of water back toward Lake Michigan, an official for the Water Reclamation District said.
Roughly 300 flights were cancelled at O’Hare Airport and about 10 flights were cancelled at Midways Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
For passengers whose flights were not cancelled, delays ran between 30 and 45 minutes, the aviation department said.
Several CTA buses have been temporarily rerouted because of flooding, including: the No. 55 Garfield, the No. 70 Division, the No. 9 Ashland, the No. 92 Foster, the No. 52A South Kedzie and the No. 63 Street, according to the CTA. Additionally, northbound No. 135 Clarendon/LaSalle Express, No. 146 Inner Drive/Michigan Express, and No. 147 Outer Drive Express buses were rerouted via Lawrence, Marine, and Foster, due to flooding on the North Side.
Blue Line train service was interrupted Thursday morning near Forest Park because of a power loss from the severe weather and, separately, trains were operating with significant delays due to standing water from severe weather near Rosemont, the CTA said.
Service had resumed and all trains were moving by about 8:40 a.m., the CTA said.
A number of Metra rail lines were also impacted by the flooding, including The Union Pacific west line, the North Central line, The BNSF line, and the Rock Island district line.
Trains on the Union Pacific line were reported stopped, while the other commuter lines reported delays of up to 45 minutes, according to a Metra service advisory.
Kane County is experiencing flooding along the Fox River, local creeks and other low lying areas. Sandbagging efforts are underway along the Fox River in the Valley View area north of St. Charles, South Elgin, Algonquin and the Dundee area, a release from the Kane County Office of Emergency Management said. River levels are expected to rise over the next few days, the release said. Anyone living along the low lying areas near the river area in Kane County was encouraged to make plans to evacuate should water levels continue to rise. Areas that are already flooded will only get worse, the office said. Fire and law enforcement personnel in Kane County were encouraging people not to wait until they need to be rescued to make the decision to move to higher ground.
In McHenry County, Algonquin Road between Illinois Route 31 and Pyott Road in Algonquin and Kemman Road. North of Van Der Karr Road have been closed because of flooding, the McHenry County Sheriff’s office said. A number of other roads in McHenry County had high standing water, according to the sheriff’s office. Many roads in Aurora are also closed because of flooding, according to police there.
Since the rains started in earnest Wednesday evening, nearly 5 inches of precipitation had fallen at O’Hare Airport – prompting the National Weather Service to issue a flash flood warning.
Swollen storm sewers, rivers and tributaries could overrun the lowlands across a large swath of the state, stretching from Peoria to Chicago, according to the weather service.
High winds could add to the misery with gusts expected to reach upwards of 40 miles per hour on Thursday, the weather service forecast.
Early Thursday northbound lanes of the Dan Ryan Expressway were closed on the South Side near 87th Street as the deluge pushed storm sewers to capacity, according to the Illinois State Police.
The number and location of flooded streets in the city could not be determined early Thursday because officials with Office of Emergency Management and Communications could not immediately be reached.
It’s not just the Chicago region that’s getting drenched, Birk said.
The storm is traveling in a northeast direction from Oklahoma to Michigan, bringing with it rains, thunder storms and -- in some areas --tornado alerts, according to the weather service.
Once the rains taper off this afternoon a cold front from the southwest is expected to follow, dropping temperatures into the 40s and lower, if windchill is taken into account, Birk said.
Weather is not expected to return to “normal” until early next week, Birk said.
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