Flight delays, outages linger after storms
By Mitch Smith Tribune reporter
Flight delays and power outages lingered this morning after the Chicago area was pounded by torrential rain, powerful winds and flash floods.
About 70 flights have been canceled at O’Hare International Airport and more than 250 flights were experiencing delays, according to FlightStats, which gathers data from airports and airlines.Some delays were running an hour or more.
No cancellations were reported at Midway Airport, and there just a “handful” of delays, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.
About 3,300 households remained without power, down from the peak of 15,000 Wednesday night, according to Commonwealth Edison spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney.
The expressways were clear for the morning rush, a far cry from the night before when flooding forced some motorists to drive the wrong way on the Dan Ryan Expressway.
Officials continue to investigate the death of a maintenance worker who was lining a sewer on the Northwest Side. A surge of water in the swept away the 25-year-old private contractor around 8:30 p.m., officials said. The worker’s body was recovered after officials lowered a camera into the sewer.
At one point during the storms Wednesday night, the National Weather Service estimated rain fell at a rate of 1.5 to 2 inches per hour — up to twice the rate that can trigger flash flooding in urban areas. There were reports of quarter-inch size hail and 60 mph wind gusts.
“It was raining real heavy,” weather service meteorologist Matt Friedlein said.
Heavy flooding on the Dan Ryan by Roosevelt and Congress temporarily stopped traffic and prompted some drivers to turn around and drive back the way they came, according to State Police Sgt. Steven Tufenkjian.
Interstate 94 southbound at Madison Street also flooded, state police said, along with the Chinatown feeder southbound ramp to southbound Interstate 55.
Among the areas reporting the worst flooding was the Illinois Medical District neighborhood on the Near West Side.
Stroger Hospital was hit with a brief power outage, and the University of Illinois Medical Center experienced water damage to several buildings, according to hospital spokeswomen. At the U. of I. hospital, the damage to equipment in one lab prevented workers from performing a specific blood test.
Tribune reporter Adam Sege contributed.