Effects of Hurricane Sandy will reach Chicago area - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Effects of Hurricane Sandy will reach Chicago area

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

As Hurricane Sandy gains steam and bears down on the mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S., "widespread potentially significant impacts" such as heavy rains, strong winds, power outages, downed trees and power lines, and flooding, are expected in parts of an area that stretches from southern New England to the Tidewater of Virginia.

In New York, for instance, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday announced that the commuter transit agency that serves the New York City area will begin the suspension of all subway, bus and commuter railroad service at 7 p.m. Sunday. The New York City subway system will begin to curtail service after 7 p.m. Sunday, and the New York City bus system within the following two hours. Commuter rail service, such as the Long Island Rail Road, will start their final trains at 7 p.m. Sunday.

While the hurricane itself will not reach into the Chicago and northwest Indiana area, its impact will still be felt on Lake Michigan, near the lakeshore, and by anyone traveling to the East Coast.

A tropical system, or its remnants that become "extratropical," can have a massive radius of influence on the weather pattern, according to the National Weather Service. Because of their size and depth, they can alter, shift, or slow a typical jet stream regime, changing the progress of other weather systems, the weather service said.

As Hurricane Sandy moves north to our latitude and slows, it will halt the west-to-east progress of high and low pressures across the Midwest and western Great Lakes, according to the weather service. This "blocking" will maintain the high pressure and dry air mass over much of the Mississippi River Valley, so no precipitation is expected for local areas away from the influence of the Great Lakes through the middle of next week.

The primary impact of Hurricane Sandy on the Chicago area will be powerful northerly winds over and near Lake Michigan -- of 50 to 60 mph -- that will increase on Monday night through the middle of the week, the weather service said. Gale force winds will occur, with even storm force winds possible over the water. Winds just as strong may even be seen into Lake and Porter Counties, in Indiana, and in Cook County. With the forecast winds as well as waves at or in excess of 20 feet near the shore, a Lakeshore Flood Watch has been issued. Occasional waves of up to 33 feet could occur by Tuesday morning, subsiding to 28 feet late Tuesday night, according to the weather service. The Flood Watch is in effect from late Monday night through Wednesday afternoon.

The large waves could continue for a prolonged period through Wednesday afternoon before conditions improve, the weather service said. These waves could batter the beaches and shorelines, leading to coastal erosion and flooding.

The northerly winds off of Lake Michigan will aid cool air in passing over the warm waters of the lake, generating at least lake effect clouds into northwest Indiana next week and potentially even showers, the weather service said.

A gale warning has also been issued, meaning that winds of 34 to 47 knots are imminent or occurring, and it is highly recommended that mariners without the proper experience to be out on the water in such conditions seek safe harbor prior to the onset of gale conditions. A storm watch has also been issued for Lake Michigan.

The hurricane is expected to affect travel into and out of airports up and down the eastern seaboard, and airlines are offering customers the opportunity to change their flight plans. Travelers should check with the airline they are flying with for details on these policies.

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