Chicago Weather: Waves up to 18 feet forecast in Lake Michigan

Thursday, September 23, 2021
High waves up to 18 feet slam Lake Michigan shoreline
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Dangerous weather is forecast in Chicago along Lake Michigan with high waves of up to 18 feet expected.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- People need to be very careful near Chicago's lakefront with high waves forecast in Lake Michigan, the National Weather Service says.

A Beach Hazard Statement and a Lakeshore Flood Advisory are in effect through Thursday afternoon. Northern Illinois and northwest Indiana could see some of the biggest waves of the season.

Waves could go as high as 18 feet, with winds along the lake of up to 45 mph. ABC7 Meteorologist Greg Dutra said the lake level at the southern end of Lake Michigan will be one to two feet higher than normal.

Doing anything in the water would be extremely dangerous. For people who run, walk or bike near the lakefront, it's a reminder to stay alert of the waves crashing onto the trail. The Lakefront Trail is closed in certain locations, including the stretch from Ohio Street to North Avenue.

A pleasant lakefront stroll it was not for many who came out to usher in autumn.

"It's crazy. You can barely walk straight at all," said Alberto Ramierz. "We were trying to make it further down, like to the pier, but it was just too much."

In Whiting, Ind., the rolling waves spilled onto the boardwalk. The extreme conditions also spawned water spouts.

The Chicago Park District reminds people that beaches are closed for the season and to stay out of the water.

"We want to remind everyone to use caution when on or near the lakefront waters," said Matt Tokarz, OEMC fire operations coordinator. We encourage the public to take warnings seriously and refrain from swimming in the lake after lifeguard season ends."

One neighborhood that is especially vulnerable to extreme conditions is Rogers Park. Residents who live on the lake can actually feel the waves.

"Every once in a while they get to this point or a little bigger," Rogers Park resident Mark Kolsen said. "All of a sudden when they hit our seawall - which is very solid - all of a sudden you feel the building, mmm, rock a little bit! That's how hard they come in."

This area is no stranger to waves slamming into apartment buildings in the last few years.

"A lot of buildings get some pretty heavy duty damage, but there's work being done to them so they're kind of prepared for this kind of weather," resident Heidi Valenzuela said.

"I've been here six years, and the last couple have been really severe, and a lot of the buildings have had damage as a result of the waves being so high," said Brian Rosenwalk, a Rogers Park resident.

According to residents, large boulders have been placed on several beaches to try to stop the erosion. Before these barriers were created, there was a nice sandy beach.