High winds close bike path, cancel flights

November 29, 2011 8:16:42 PM PST
Strong winds of up to 60 miles an hour whipped up huge waves along the lakefront Tuesday night.

A wind advisory was in effect in the area until 9 p.m.

The gusty weather, however, did not discourage some residents from venturing out to the lake front.

"I just love it. I love the wind and being able to ride to work in the mornings and see the lake. This is unique. You have to enjoy it," said Andres Quiros.

There was no shortage of cyclists who, despite waves as high as 20 feet, pedaled through in search of a challenge -- at least until the squad cars stopped them.

"I got knocked down about 10 years ago going around that curve. I wasn't going to go around that curve," said cyclist Ed Hitchcock.

The northbound bike path was closed for much of the day as high winds continued to batter the Chicago area. The National Weather Service said the gale-force winds might cause some beach erosion and flooding.

"I couldn't even go around the boat house because it was so windy and the sand was blowing, and the waves are huge," said Jill Barns.

On Michigan Avenue, holiday shoppers struggled to stay on their feet and keep their hats on, especially in the area near the John Hancock building where a wind tunnel adds an extra kick to the already strong gusts hitting pedestrians in every direction.

"It's kind of fun. I'm from California and this is an adventure," said Susan Siegal.

The strong winds caused some more serious problems as well. On the city's South Side, two construction workers were struck by flying plywood. There were no serious injuries. In Lincoln Park, a mid-rise building had to be evacuated after a boiler malfunction combined with strong winds to bring about a carbon monoxide leak.

"We evacuated approximately 230 people to the Park District building across the street. All without incident, everything went very well. We had readings as high as 400 part in the basement," said Chief David McDermott, Chicago Fire Department. "We turned off the gas in the building, the levels came down, we ventilated the building properly."

As of 8:30 p.m., the windy weather was still causing problems at the city's airports. At O'Hare, some flights were delayed an average of 90 minutes and more than 525 flights were canceled. At Midway, some flights were delayed an average of 45 minutes. No flights had been canceled.

To the south of Chicago, there was snow in parts of Indiana. Lafayette got a sloppy mix of rain and snow, and more snow could be on the way.

Metra also reported some wind-related delays.

November 29, 2011
OEMC Encourages Residents to Exercise Caution Due to High Wind Gusts and Lake Shore Flood Advisory
CHICAGO -- The Office of Emergency Management and Communications is issuing a public safety reminder to residents to exercise precaution today due to inclement weather conditions that report north and northeast winds increasing to 30 to 40 mph with occasional gusts over 50 mph. A Wind Advisory remains in effect until 9 p.m. CST this evening.

A Lake Shore Flood Advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. CST Wednesday. Waves increasing to 15 to 20 feet this morning with some occasional high waves are possible. Wave will begin to slowly subside tonight.

The Lakefront path and pedestrian underpasses have been closed due to the high waves from the lake. The path and pedestrian underpasses will reopen when the National Weather Service warnings expire and the winds and waves subside.

"Pedestrian should exercise extreme caution today and, unless necessary, avoid any outdoor lakeside activity.

Pedestrians are encouraged to obey all closures and barricades to avoid incident or injury," said OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel.

Today's weather can cause bodily injury and damage to property that is not secured. Additional driving precautions should be taken that take into consideration the effect of high winds on steering abilities.

Prior to going out throughout the day it is advised to tune in to local and national weather broadcast to obtain the most current weather conditions.

To register for emergency notifications, subscribe to Notify Chicago at www.alertchicago.org or for people with disabilities or seniors to sign up for the new Voluntary Emergency Assistance Registry, see the OEMC website at www.cityofchicago.org/oemc .

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