Flood warning for DuPage, Des Plaines rivers as winter blows back into town
BY TINA SFONDELES AND MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporters February 20, 2014 1:56PM
Updated: February 21, 2014 9:45AM
A flood warning remained in effect until noon Friday some area rivers, after melting snow, heavy rainfall and ice dams caused rapid rises in water levels.
The National Weather Service issue the flood warning for the Des Plaines River at Riverside, the east branch of the DuPage River at Bolingbrook and the Kankakee River near Shelby and Momence.
A wind advisory is also in effect until 3 p.m. Friday, with wind gusts of up to 57 mph, according to the weather service. O’Hare International Airport reported nearly 80 canceled flights as of 7:45 a.m. Friday, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
The flooding threat followed dense fog that engulfed downtown Chicago and beyond for several hours Thursday shut down flights in and out of Midway and O’Hare airports for an hour and caused a pileup involving at least 19 vehicles on Interstate 57 near Peotone. And winds gusting at more than 60 mph, combined with a chilling cold front, spawned five tornadoes that touched down in Central Illinois.
Illinois State Police said fog blanketed the area at the time of the multivehicle crash, which shut down traffic in both directions about 4:25 p.m. on I-57 near Wilmington/Peotone Road. All lanes were open by 11 p.m.
Seven semi-trailer trucks and at least a dozen passenger vehicles were involved in the crash. At least 10 people were taken to area hospitals with injuries that weren’t life-threatening, according to State Police.
At least one truck caught fire after the crash and a vehicle was trapped beneath a semi-trailer truck. Emergency crews brought extrication equipment and heavy cranes to the scene.
The fog also caused the cancellation of nearly 200 flights at Midway and 420 flights at O’Hare. High winds added to the issues that resulted in delays of at least 30 minutes at both airports late Thursday. A gust of 58 mph was recorded at Midway at 8:24 p.m.
Jonathan Kildow, 56, a businessman trying to get home to Minnesota, booked a flight for Thursday night and another for Friday morning — just in case.
His Plan B overnight arrangements were spartan: “I’ll just sit in a chair and try to get up in the morning to catch a flight.”
Downstate, three homes and several farm buildings were destroyed by a tornado in Pana, and several machine sheds and a home were damaged by a tornado in the Jacksonville area, the weather service said. No serious damage was reported after tornadoes touched down in Pittsfield, Mechanicsburg and Effingham.
Thursday’s storms dropped one inch of rain at O’Hare — a record for the date.
And the erratic weather caused problems on area roadways.
“We are seeing a lot of black ice on the roads . . . that combined with heavy fog out there today and right now, we are just urging people to take it slow out there,” AAA Chicago spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.
And after a respite of springlike temperatures, Chicago will get cold again.
“Our brief fling with spring is over,” National Weather Service Meteorologist Richard Castro said. “Cold weather is back, and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. Highs in the lower 20s and teens are expected next week. . . . It will be very, very, very cold for this time of year,” Castro said.
Friday will bring wind gusts of 40 to 50 mph, wind chills in the teens and a high expected in the mid-30s.
And as temperatures plunge this weekend and next week, piles of malleable snow will freeze into glaciers, and puddles will become sheets of ice, Castro said.
Fierce west winds won’t die down until late Friday afternoon and could cause turbulence for drivers on north-south roads.
Castro advised homeowners to secure loose objects on decks and patios that could be tossed around by the wind.
Contributing: Sun-Times Media Wire, AP