| CHICAGO, April 18
CHICAGO, April 18 Heavy rains and flooding in
the Chicago area brought havoc to the morning commute on
Thursday, shutting major expressways, delaying commuter trains
for hours, cancelling flights and closing dozens of suburban
The National Weather Service issued flash flood warnings for
parts of 17 Illinois counties, including Chicago and its
suburbs, and two northwest Indiana counties. Between three and
nearly 7 inches of rain had fallen throughout the Chicago area
in the last 24 hours and more was expected later in the day,
according to the weather service.
Flooding shut down parts of the Kennedy, Edens and
Eisenhower Expressways on Thursday morning, according to
Illinois State Police.
O'Hare International Airport reported 500 flight
cancellations and delays of more than 90 minutes for incoming
and outgoing flights. Midway International Airport reported more
than 30 cancellations and 30-minute delays.
"There are all kinds of things going on, lots of flooded
basements, flooded streets and viaducts," said Chicago Fire
Department Chief Kevin MacGregor.
The stormy weather was also affecting other parts of the
country, including West, Texas, where emergency workers were
responding to a fiery, fatal explosion at a fertilizer plant.
AccuWeather reported that heavy rain was sweeping into the area,
with wind gusts of up to 45 miles per hour.
A moderate risk of severe thunderstorms was predicted into
the evening on Thursday for parts of Mississippi, Arkansas,
Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, according to the NWS
Storm Prediction Center.
A spokesman for Metra, the Chicago commuter rail service,
said three Union Pacific Lines suffered severe delays due to a
loss of power at a "complex set of switches" outside a major
downtown train station after a lightning strike.
Power has been restored, but trains were getting through at
"much slower rates than normal," spokesman Tom Miller said.
"We're playing catch-up."
Passengers on their morning commute waited for up to two
hours on trains backed up outside Ogilvie Transportation Center
in the pouring rain, many of them within sight of their downtown
On the city's South Side, a sinkhole opened up on a
residential street, swallowing three cars, according to Officer
Mike Sullivan of the Chicago Police Department. One person was
hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.
Officials in the Chicago suburb of Lombard declared a state
of emergency due to flooding and told people to avoid traveling.
(Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Nick Carey; Editing by
Colleen Jenkins and Gunna Dickson)