Spring storm brings heavy rains, threat of flooding
SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE April 17, 2013 5:01PM
Updated: April 17, 2013 10:09PM
The National Weather Service issued a flood watch Wednesday for Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton, and Benton counties through Friday morning.
Rain began drenching Lake County about 4:30 p.m. with periods of rainfall expected to be heavy through Thursday. The Highland Police sent out a weather alert Wednesday, reminding residents to clear storm sewer grates.
The National Weather Service said the region could get as much as 4 inches of rain by Friday.
Officials said the Kankakee River at Shelby in Lake County is under a flood warning through Friday morning. The river is at 10 feet, while the flood stage is 9 feet.
Meanwhile, the Little Calumet River Basin Commission officials were monitoring that river, but a flood warning hasn’t been issued. The commission is meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Munster Town Hall.
The Weather Service warned that gusty winds may call cause small braches to be blown down and heavy water could lead to standing water on roadways and poor visibility.
This afternoon’s commute should be challenging, with motorists and even those walking from the trains slowed by rain and winds.
The tornado watch, added Wednesday afternoon and in effect until midnight, covers much of north central Illinois and northern Indiana south of the Kankakee River. It is approximately 65 miles north and south of a line from just southwest of Quincy, Ill., to northeast of Lafayette. The watch alerts residents to possible tornadoes, large hail and wind gusts of up to 70 mph.
Additionally, a gale watch -- issued when winds from 34 to 47 knots are expected -- has been issued for Lake Michigan in an area from Wilmette Harbor north of Chicago to Michigan City.
Tonight, there will be more showers and thunderstorms, along with gusty winds, as well as hail and heavy rainfall. This was expected to continue late into the night and into Thursday.
By mid-afternoon the storms have already led to more than 300 flight cancellations, as well as delays averaging one hour or more at O’Hare International Airport, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. At Midway, as of about 3:30 p.m., a few flights had been canceled and airlines were reporting some delays of 30 minutes or more.
High winds, showers, small hail and thunderstorms are also on the menu for Thursday, according to the weather service. It may not make the conditions easier to weather, but temperatures will be higher on Thursday, expected to be in the low 70s. South winds were expected to be 15-25 mph in the morning, increasing to 20-30 mph by early afternoon, according to the weather service. Gusts of up to 40 mph are possible.
The showers and storms will continue into Thursday night, with showers combined with thunderstorms likely in the evening, then showers likely after midnight. Lows will dip to around 40 degrees, with wind gusts up to 35 mph, the weather service says.