September 30, 2011 / 6:15 PM / 8 years ago

Strong winds whip up waves, down trees in Midwest

James Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A gusty cold front sweeping into the Midwest from Canada triggered gale, rip current and shoreline flood warnings along Lake Michigan on Friday and whipped up waves as high a 23 feet, the National Weather Service said.

Areas of North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and adjoining parts of Canada - were buffeted by winds as high a 70 miles an hour and downed trees, knocked out power and prompted the closure of waterfront parks in several states.

In Wisconsin’s Door County, a picturesque peninsula that juts out into northern Lake Michigan popular this time of year with tourists seeking fall color, all state parks and trails were closed until next week. The state’s Department of Natural Resources said this was because of closed roads, downed trees and unsafe conditions.

No injuries were reported.

“We have all available local crews at work clearing roads and more help is on the way,” said Dan Schuller, director of the DNR’s Wisconsin State Parks and Trails system.

“We are concentrating on damage assessment and clearing of roads to campgrounds and other high use areas. Campers currently in the parks are being asked to leave ... We will reopen all properties as soon as they can be declared safe for visitors.”

Chicago lived up to its nickname as the “Windy City” on Friday as huge swells forced the closure of the city’s 18.5 mile lakefront bike and running path.

Mark Bardou, a meteorologist with in the Chicago bureau of the NWS, said some of the strongest winds associated with the storm were measured over the Great Lakes, where gusts neared 65 knots an hour, about 75 miles an hour, and buoys in the middle of the lake measured swells as high as 23 feet.

Editing by Greg McCune

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