PHOTOS: Thundersnow! strikes Chicago
The high winds Thursday night left a mess on Michigan Avenue. A window above a Macy's sign at Water Tower Place was blown out. Broken glass littered the street, but there was no word of any injuries.
Low visibility caused major delays and periodic ground stops at both Chicago airports on Thursday afternoon. O'Hare reports 340 flights canceled and 30-minute delays, and Midway reports 180 flights canceled and 60-minute delays.
"This morning, we had everything around the Chicago area. I'm referring to it as thunderslush. We had sleet and freezing rain, and snow, as well as rain, coupled with thunder and lightning ," ABC7 Eyewitness News Tracy Butler said.
That additional precipitation, with spring-like temperatures that melt the leftover snow, lead to rising rivers and flooding concerns.
Rivers rise across area
Flooding is possible in areas with poor drainage, low-lying areas, and areas near streams, creeks and rivers, according to the weather service.
In Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood, residents are keeping a close eye on the north branch of the Chicago River. The area is no stranger to flooded homes and other property.
"It's been twice in six years now, and there's been a lot of talking about measures to take to curb the river over-flooding, and it's been a lot of talk and not a lot of action so far," Dave Gerhardt said.
In Wilmington, the Kankakee River is still frozen, but is melting quickly during this rapid thaw. Will County officials are not concerned about ice dams at this point, but residents are eyeing the river closely.
The flood watch is in effect from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, the weather service said. The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working with the department of Transportation and Highways, and Forest Preserves to prepare generators, sandbags and water pumps for anticipated flooding, a statement from the agency said.
Just two hours later, a wind advisory kicks in at 5 p.m. Thursday for Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, and other surrounding counties, including towns in northwest Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. The wind warning expires 11 p.m. Thursday evening.
Wind speeds could climb up to 40 mph, while gusts are expected to hit 50 to 60 mph in the early to mid-evening hours, the weather service said.
Strong winds could damage trees and toss around unsecured objects, making travel dangerous, the weather service said.