High winds, rain blast lakefront

October 19, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Winds approaching 40-45 miles an hour triggered huge waves, which blasted Chicago's lakefront.

A high wind warning remains in effect until 10 a.m. Thursday. A lakefront flood warning is also in effect until 4 p.m. Thursday.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management is urging residents to stay away from the lake. Despite that warning, people came to the lakefront to get a closer look.

"It's brutal. It's very windy. You can feel the sand come up and kick you in the face," said Ron Durso, amateur storm chaser.

Waves and brutal winds pummeled the shoreline of the Museum Campus.

"It's the Windy City, but you don't get to experience it like this every day...I can barely stand right," said Brian Parino, La Grange resident.

In Wilmette, the wind blew down power lines onto trees sparking a fire. In Highland Park, power lines were down and trees were blocking streets. Downtown, high winds blasted commuters on their way home.

"I feel like Mary Poppins," said Kathy Howe as her umbrella flew away.

"I literally had to hang on to the light post so I didn't fall into the street," said Maria Jock.

Wind gusts blew down billboards and busted umbrellas, which packed trash cans.

"It's bad, it's awful. It's like a hurricane," said Jane.

The Willis Tower Skydeck was closed Wednesday night due to the high winds as a precaution. A group of architects and developers traveled all the way from Paris to see the site.

"I almost lost my temper. I was screaming, it can't be true," said Daniel Schabod, French tourist. "It's a very sad day, but we will be back."

At Wabash and Pearson, the wind busted out a 12th floor window, forcing police to shut down part of Wabash.

The bike path along the lakefront was also closed Wednesday night. Police barriers and signs are in place.

"You must obey them, it says do not cross and we mean do not cross, and it's for their own good," said Gary Schenkel, director, OEMC.

No injuries were reported, according to Chicago police.

The strong winds forced officials at Northwestern University to cancel a soccer game that was scheduled for Wednesday evening. A campus alert was issued encouraging students and staff to stay away from the lakefront.

The high winds forced authorities to ban some vehicles on part of the Indiana Toll Road in the northwest part of the state Wednesday night. Double and triple trailers will be kept off the road until noon Thursday. The affected area is from the Illinois line to exit 72 at South Bend.

Due to rough weather here and out East, some airlines at O'Hare Airport were experiencing delays of 90 minutes or more Wednesday night. One hundred and seventy five flights were canceled. At Midway, delays of up to two hours were reported.

ComEd said there were no significant power outages Wednesday night. Extra crews were scheduled to go out overnight just in case.

The windy and wet conditions are expected to continue into Thursday.

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