Weather update: Elgin coping thus far with Thursday’s rains
By Mike Danahey email@example.com @DanaheyECN With Staff and Wire Reports February 20, 2014 8:34AM
Water, adn ice, pour over the Carpentersville Dam on the Fox River Thursday afternoon. | Mike Danahey/Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 21, 2014 2:42AM
ELGIN — Through late afternoon and Thursday’s mix of bad weather, Elgin was coping thus far.
“It looks like we’ve dodged a bullet - at least so far,” Elgin Citizen Services Director Colby Basham said before 4:30 p.m.
The National Weather Service, meanwhile, warned about high winds and dropping temperatures later Thursday.
“Fog started to roll in before 3:30 p.m., and the morning rush hour could be slippery Friday,” Basham said.
At 8 a.m., Basham said the city’s 311 center had received about a dozen calls about relatively minor instances of standing water on streets. There were no reports of any ice dams forming on the Fox River.
A city public works crew also was dealing with a water main break near Cobblers Crossing and Congdon Avenue, Basham said. And there was an issue with gates being stuck for the rail line at McLean Boulevard and Big Timber Road.
Basham said that this winter, there have been periodic issues with some gates that probably are weather-related with the sensors somehow falsely detecting the presence of a train.
Basham said the forecast as of 8 a.m. called for temperatures to rise close to 50, for thunderstorms around 2 p.m. and for the rains to continue into the early evening, with a total accumulation of about three-quarters of an inch possible before the wind and drop in temperature.
While the rain would be welcome most summers, Basham noted that under current winter conditions — with melting snow and frozen ground — it could cause flooding.
As of 12:15 p.m., before thunder rolled through Elgin, Basham said public works crews were out in force with duties including clearing catch basins and lines, while CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) members were checking creeks for irregularities such as ice dams and flooding. There had been some minor flooding along Longcommon Parkway Thursday morning, Basham said, but it had since subsided.
The city’s 311 and 911 centers had received a few calls from residents seeking sandbags. Basham noted that sandbags are available for residents to pick up at the public works garage at 1900 Holmes Road and Fire Station 5, 804 Villa St.
The city has an emergency action plan in place, as does the Kane County Office of Emergency Management, Basham said.
While a window of about two hours Thursday morning without rained helped efforts, what has staffs concerned is what might happen overnight with high winds, dropping temperatures, ice reforming and about a half-inch of snow predicted to fall on top of this.
A high wind warning went into effect right after the flood watch expired in the Chicago area Thursday evening, boasting gusts of up to 60 mph.
The advisory started at 5 p.m. Thursday — two hours after the 12-hour flood watch ended — for Cook, Kane, DeKalb, DuPage, and other surrounding counties, including towns in northwest Indiana, according to the National Weather Service. The wind warning was set to end 11 p.m. Thursday.
Wind speeds could climb up to 40 mph, while gusts were 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.
“The combination of rainfall and snow that’s on the ground right now that will be melting will lead to some pretty big runoff in the area because the ground is frozen and the water will have nowhere to go,” said meteorologist Kevin Birk.
By 6:51 a.m., .13 inches of rain had accumulated at O’Hare International Airport and .16 inches at Midway International Airport, according to the weather service.
Flooding is possible in areas with poor drainage, low-lying areas, and areas near streams, creeks and rivers, according to the weather service.
The flood watch was in effect from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, the weather service said.