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Waves crash over flood wall near Lake Shore Drive

Hurricane Sandy fallout blasts Chicago shoreline with waves, hundreds of flights grounded

by John Kanaly
Oct 30, 2012


John Kanaly

Waves crash over flood wall in front of Drake Hotel

As near record-setting waves from Hurricane Sandy fallout slam against Chicago’s lakefront, the Chicago Park District is warning everyone to keep their distance from the lake.

The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for the lakeshore area prompting the Park District to close parts of the bike trail along Lake Shore Drive near North Avenue Beach. The warning said 18-23 foot waves are likely until the warning expires at 4 a.m. Wednesday.

By late Tuesday a buoy had recorded a 21.7-foot wave, which makes it the second largest on record for this part of the lake. Waves increased in height throughout Tuesday. The largest on record was in September 2011at 22.9 feet. The buoy records data 50 miles southeast of Milwaukee.

By early Tuesday, large waves were crashing over the floodwall and spilling onto the bike trails that are usually busy with bikers and runners. In past years large waves have flooded Lake Shore Drive.

Strong persistent winds also caused lake levels to rise to more than 10 inches above normal in the 24 hours ending Tuesday afternoon.

Strong winds from Hurricane Sandy are behind the waves, as it moves inland after hitting the East Coast hard Monday night. The storm lost power over land and wasdowngraded from a hurricane to a storm. However, the National Weather Service announced a high-wind advisory from 7 p.m. Tuesday until 4 a.m. Wednesday. Winds could gust up to 55 mph with sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph near the lake.

The U.S. Coast Guard Tuesday was warning mariners on an hourly basis to monitor weather conditions and proceed with caution, a spokeswoman said, but it had not needed to launch any rescue efforts.

Nearly 500 flights to and from O’Hare International Airport had been cancelled by late Tuesday. More than 75 additional flights to and from both coasts had also been cancelled at Midway International Airport, according the Chicago Department of Aviation.
The department was encouraging travelers to check with airlines to find out when their flights could be rescheduled.