Pounding waves close section of South Shore Drive for hours

Pounding waves and steady rain brought by a winter storm Saturday forced the closure of parts of Lake Shore Drive and South Shore Drive due to flooding.

The storm also caused the cancellation of more than 1,200 flights at the city’s airports Saturday afternoon.

Steady rain throughout the day transitioned to snow Saturday night, with 2.1 inches recorded at O’Hare International Airport by the end of the storm, according to the National Weather Service. Midway International Airport saw 1.2 inches.

Wind gusts more than 55 mph were reported Saturday and waves as high as 20 feet ravaged the shoreline, rendering beaches in the area impassable and sending water over break walls, flooding parking lots and closing lakefront trails.

About 9:45 a.m. Saturday, the deluge forced the Office of Emergency Management to close South Shore Drive between 67th Street and 71st Street due to high water. The road was reopened about 6 p.m.

High waves also closed a lane of traffic about noon between the 1000 and 1600 blocks of North Lake Shore Drive for several hours, officials said.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reported at least 1,139 flights canceled at O’Hare and 87 flights canceled at Midway International Airport Saturday afternoon.

The Department of Streets and Sanitation deployed over 200 snow vehicles to spread salt over “arterial routes” and Lake Shore Drive Saturday before turning their attention residential streets about 6:20 a.m. Sunday, the agency said.

Drivers were advised to use caution, the weather service said, as blowing and accumulating snow was expected to cause reduced visibility on the region’s roadways.

Cook County officials urged residents to be cautious during the storm by steering clear of flooded roadways, bringing loose items indoors and avoiding the Lake Michigan shoreline.