Torrential rains pounded the city and the suburbs overnight, flooding underpasses and turning expressways into parking lots — just in time for what is turning out to be a miserable commute for many.
“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. Westbound lanes of the Eisenhower Expressway were closed at St. Charles Road; eastbound lanes were closed near Route 30. Lanes were also closed at Mannheim Road.
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.
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 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.
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., but the CTA advised commuters that there could be residual delays and to allow for extra travel tme on the line.
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.
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.