1000 mile storm soaks Chicago, wallops Northeast

Chicagoans endured a windy, wet and raw Saturday that put a damper on the city’s early St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. With temperatures hovering in the 40s and northeast winds gusting to nearly 40 mph, wind-driven rains officially totaled nearly 0.60 inches at O’Hare International Airport, but topped 1 inch in the harder hit south suburban areas. Sunday promises to be drier with just some sprinkles or passing light showers, but persistent clouds and northeast winds will continue the chill.
Chicago’s weather was tame compared to the pounding out East. Areas from West Virginia and Pennsylvania to Connecticut were on the eastern flank of the same storm that brought Chicago its inclement weather Saturday. High winds and heavy rain produced flooding, downed trees and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of residents while disrupting air and rail travel. Winds gusted as high as 64 mph in New York City while more than two inches of rain soaked Newark, New Jersey (2.16 inches) and Philadelphia (2.30 inches). The storm battered the same areas that were hit with a massive 2-3 foot snowstorm just two weeks ago.

Chicago flood of August 1987

Dear Tom,
I remember a big flood in the city in August 1987. Was the flooding caused by a series of strong thunderstorms or a frontal passage?

Robert Skurski, Chicago

Dear Robert,
That flood, one of the worst to ever hit the city, was caused by waves of moisture-laden thunderstorms that “trained” over areas from Rockford to Chicago’s North Side for about 17 hours on Aug. 13-14, 1987. When the storms abated, 9.35 inches of rain had inundated the area near O’Hare International Airport, turning it into an inaccessible island for nearly 24 hours. The brunt of the storm targeted the north and west parts of the metropolitan area, causing three fatalities and damage in excess of $220 million. Wet weather continued to plague the city after the flood and August 1987 eventually tallied 17.10 inches of rain, making it the city’s wettest month on record.

Fog eases, some flights delayed at area airports

The dense fog from this morning has eased, but not in time to prevent a slowdown at Chicago’s airports.  Flights were delayed at both Midway and O’Hare this morning due to a combination of fog and a steady rain. 

The rain did not stop St, Patrick’s Day festivities in downtown Chicago.  The parade is on as scheduled,  and the annual tradition of dying the Chicago River bright green took place earlier today.

Below:  The Chicago River at 10:30 Saturday Morning


river green.jpg

Photo courtesy of Roberta Peters