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Spring storm brings heavy rains, gusty winds, canceled flights

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Updated: April 17, 2013 9:26PM



Maybe spring is here -- heavy rain, gusty winds, hail, thunderstorms and flooding are all in store for the Chicago area over the next couple of days as a strong spring storm moves through, according to the National Weather Service.

By the time skies clear, the rainfall total for the area could reach four inches, a weather service meteorologist said Wednesday.

The heavy rainfall is already causing flooding along rivers and streams in some areas, which will worsen as more rain moves through the area overnight, the National Weather Service said Wednesday evening. All Chicago-area counties in northeastern Illinois as well as Lake County, Ind., are under a flood warning until noon Thursday.

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 to Michigan City, Ind.

By 8:30 p.m., the storms have already led to more than 300 flight cancellations, as well as delays averaging two hours or more at O’Hare International Airport, according to the city Department of Aviation. At Midway, 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 to 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.

Widespread heavy rainfall totals are possible with this storm, according to the weather service. The storms could dump as much as 4 inches of rain in the Chicago area by the time it’s over.

The gale watch is in effect from late Wednesday night through Thursday evening. “Significant” waves of 5 feet are expected, as well as occasional waves of up to eight feet.



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