Temperatures plummet as record rainfall freezes, floods through Wednesday morning commute

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - After temperatures rose to a near record of high of 66 on Tuesday, the Chicago area can expect freezing temperatures, ice, and more flooding during the Wednesday morning commute.

Record breaking rainfall brought 2.6 inches of rain to O’Hare International Airport by Tuesday evening, beating out the 1997 record of 1.94 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The city is in its second day under a flood warning that will remain in effect until 10:45 a.m., the weather service said. The flood warning was first issued on Monday evening.

Temperatures Wednesday will be as low as 26 degrees, a sharp drop from yesterday’s warmth. Commuters should be alert for icy spots as water on the ground freezes Wednesday morning, NWS meteorologist Ben Deueelbeiss said.

Drivers should also be aware of large areas of standing water that accumulated Tuesday, Deueelbeiss said.

Overnight, Chicago was under a Winter Weather Advisory is still in effect for Northwest Indiana, with sleet and some snow expected to accumulate on the roads, said the weather service.

The advisory was lifted for Chicago about 4a.m. when precipitation stopped in the area, Deueelbeiss said.

As of Wednesday morning, there was a 20 percent chance of snow and sleet in the area that could cause hazardous travel, low visibility and slippery surfaces, according to the weather surface. Drivers were encouraged to allow extra travel time, reduce speed and increase following distance, said the service.

About 4:50 a.m., the weather service downgraded the severity of observed and expected floods in the area from moderate to minor.

Tuesday’s rainfall, combined with melting snow and rapid runoff due to frozen ground, flooded low-lying areas and caused water levels to rise in rivers and ponds according to the weather service.

Minor flooding and standing water were reported on roads throughout the Chicago area Tuesday, according to NWS meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez.

About 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, the Highland Police Department in Highland, Ind., said road closures would be in effect due to flooding. Kennedy Avenue was closed in both directions about 12:15 a.m. due to high water levels. The road remained closed through early Wednesday, it was unclear when it would re-open.

The left shoulder and left lane of the inbound Eisenhower Expressway were closed about noon Tuesday near Cicero because of flooding caused by a collapsed sewer inside the CTA Blue Line, according to a statement from the Illinois Department of Transportation. The lane and shoulder was back open by Tuesday evening.

The Cook County Department of Transportation reported that some roads in the south suburbs were closed because of flooding Tuesday morning, but reopened Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, the Kishwaukee River at Belvidere in Rockford was above its 9 foot flood stage, at 10 feet.

Street flooding was also reported in Riverside Tuesday, according to a statement from the city. The DuPage River was at a minor flood stage in Bolingbrook and minor flooding was also reported on the Fox River near Montgomery and at Thorn Creek in Thornton.

DuPage County Stormwater Management began operating its major flood control facilities in Elmhurst, Naperville, Bloomingdale and Carol Stream early Tuesday, the agency said in a statement.

Temperatures are expected to reach a high of 34 Wednesday, with a low of 26 under cloudy skies, according to the weather service.

Residents of flood-prone areas were warned to take precautions and check back for forecast updates.

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