Super-storm Sandy winds arrive in Chicago, 25 ft waves expected - FOX 32 News Chicago

Super-storm Sandy winds arrive in Chicago, lake waves reach 20 feet

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Chicago has also seen the effects of Super-storm Sandy, which have caused a local set of problems - albeit in a less dramatic fashion.

SEE: PHOTOS: Fake Hurricane sandy pictures spread on internet

Hundreds of miles from its turbulent center, superstorm Sandy's outer bands were violent enough to rip up near-record high waves Tuesday on Lake Michigan, sending a community of avid surfers in Chicago into the cold, churning waters despite warnings from city officials.
 
Wave heights out in the middle of the lake reached 20 feet, short of the 23-foot record set last year by a strong storm pushing down from Canada. The difference this time is the winds are from the edges of what had been a tropical storm, one vast enough to reach hundreds of miles inland.

"I was just sitting in the car and I figured you know what I got to try to capture some of this on video because the car is just shaking behind me so, it's pretty intense it's the biggest I've ever seen and I've lived in the region for 34 years," said David Roy who was at Miller Beach in Indiana.

Gary police patrolled the beachfront at Marquette Park shooing people away if they ventured over the dune. John Hojnacki got the warning from one of the officers, which came with good reason after an earlier incident.

"He was actually saying some people were down at the bottom and they had to rescue them so they didn't want anybody going down to the lower part of the sand," Hojnacki said.

By late afternoon the rain moved in, wetting the sand and keep it from blowing in people's faces, which made it a little easier for those who came to gawk.

Onlookers in Illinois ignored warnings from city officials to stay away. They came in droves to snap photos of this rare and intriguing site.

"Last year, with that huge storm coming through, I regretted it not coming out here. It was way too cold," said John Gusanders. "So today, I had to force myself out. I had to go out and take some pictures."

The strong winds made it a real challenge for people living and commuting along Lake Shore Drive, or uses the bike path for a morning workout.

Wind advisories and warning will drop at 7 p.m. Tuesday, after which the Chicago area will see winds at 20-30 mph and gusts 40-50 mph. Northwest Indiana saw gusts at 30-60 mph Tuesday. Winds are expected to be at 30-35 mph on Wednesday in the Chicago area.

The National Weather Service, which said winds could reach gale- or storm-force, has issued a lake-shore flood warning effective from now until 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Chicago police closed the bike path from Oak to Ohio at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, Coast Guard officials said there have been no problems in the Southern Lake Michigan area.

The waves made by Lake Michigan started to whip up Tuesday morning, and came very close to the drive. Those who exercise along the lake are urged to change their path and stay away from the dangerous parts of the lakefront, including the piers and break walls. They are advised to dress warmly if they do plan on moving forward with their workout.

With the winds so strong due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, high-rise residents are warned to secure or store any furniture or appliances on balconies.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications officials warned people to use common sense, stay off the lake and observe all barricades and warning signs.

"We always have to be concerned when there are high winds because frankly, there's one person we can't contain - and that's Mother Nature." OEMC Executive Director Gary Schenkel said. "If there are things that people have on the balconies or wherever that are not tied down, or not taken in - that could present a danger to someone below."

Wind conditions in Northwest Indiana canceled classes for at least one school, and the sand whipped into people's eyes on Miller Beach in Gary Tuesday morning. National Park Services also closed some parts of the Indiana Dunes.

SEE: Nat'l Park Services closes some Ind. Dunes access

The storm out east is still causing major headaches for air travelers all over the country.

Airlines have canceled nearly 500 additional flights between O'Hare and the east coast. Locally, some airlines are experiencing delays up to 90 minutes due to high wind conditions. At Midway, airlines are experiencing a few delays averaging 30 minutes and have canceled more than 75 flights.

If you are traveling by air, or picking someone up at the airport - make sure you call ahead to see the times and status of your flight.

Officials in many East Coast airports hope to re-open sometime on Wednesday. Even if that happens, it could take three to four days for the air travel system to return to normal.

Amtrak service has been suspended from Boston south to Raleigh, North Carolina, and from the East Coast to Chicago. Both O'Hare and Midway Airports reported normal operating conditions Tuesday morning, though hundreds flights to and from areas affected by the storm have been cancelled.

The Porter Beach (Wabash Avenue) parking lot, and the Mt. Baldy and Central Avenue access points to Lake Michigan will be closed because of expected high waves and possible flooding, according to a statement release by the city. The Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site will be open, but the beach, breakwater and river-walk areas will be closed.

Waves and potential flooding have led to the closures of several areas in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Tuesday, according to the National Park Service.

Sandy's winds will shut down parts of Navy Pier Tuesday. The indoor options will be open, but the pier park area will be closed. You won't be able to ride the Ferris Wheel either. Mini golf will also be closed.

Navy Pier officials said they might get the park going again Wednesday, depending on weather conditions.

Tuesday's forecasted high winds have also forced the cancellation of a special event in downtown Chicago. The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced the final day of the Frankenplaza at Daley Plaza has been canceled.

The city decided to cancel the downtown Halloween celebration because of "expected high winds," according to the statement. "All Halloween activities and tents will be removed for safety reasons."

The storm however, will not affect Chicago's water taxi service or tour boats on the Chicago River, according to a spokesman for Wendella Boat Tours, which also operates the taxis.

Evanston's dog beach will be also closed until further notice because of "dangerous high waves and winds," a statement from the city said.

HURRICANE SANDY WREAKS HAVOC ON THE EAST COAST

The entire Eastern Seaboard is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy as the storm quiets and move inland. Millions of people from North Carolina and West Virginia to Connecticut and Rhode Island have been impacted by the storm.

Super-storm Sandy is one of the biggest storms to ever hit the United States. This widespread super-storm earned its title along with high winds and steady rain it brought snowfall to parts of North Carolina and West Virginia.

East Coast residents dealt with high winds Tuesday, as they tried to wrap their minds around what they need to do to recover from the super-storm's damage.

They're dealing with extreme flooding, power outages, even snow in its wake. At least 34 people are dead, including an 8-year-old boy in Pennsylvania.

Storm damage costs are projected at $20 billion, meaning this could be one of the costliest natural disasters in U.S. history.

Chunks of a building came flying down in Atlantic City when the hurricane made landfall overnight in New Jersey carrying 80 mile per hour winds. The storm left many residents stranded.

FOX News correspondent Jennifer Davis reported on the latest damage around 7 a.m. Tuesday.

A New York City fire destroyed 50 homes. Nearly 200 firefighters are battling the six-alarm blaze in the Breezy Point neighborhood in Queens. The fire was reported at about 11:00 p.m. Monday. Two people are reported to have suffered minor injuries. The cause of the fire is not yet known.

Many are dealing with high winds and assessing damage from the super-storm that left flooding, power outages, even snow in its wake. A record 13 foot storm surge in lower Manhattan has left much of the area flooded.

Utility crews were forced to shut off power and a reported explosion at a substation has left thousands in the dark. Hundreds of patients at NYU Medical Center had to be evacuated after the facility's backup generator failed. ComEd expects it to last throughout Tuesday morning and possibly longer.

More than 8 million people are without power across the Northeast.

Floodwaters rushed into the subway across the Hudson in Hoboken, New Jersey. The storm created mass flooding and destroying a section of Atlantic City. Transit officials say in 108 years they have never faced anything like it.

A large tanker ship was washed ashore on Staten Island. The vessel stretches more than 200 ft. long - nearly half of it is on the beach. Storm surges near Staten Island were between 15 and 20 ft.

Governor Chris Christie spoke earlier on Tuesday, and said he hopes the worst is over.

"This has been a devastating storm, as bad as everybody projected it would be here in New Jersey," Christie said. "New Jersey probably took it in the neck worse than any other state. It made landfall her in New Jersey and our Jersey Shore is devastated. We have almost no power in the city of Newark because of the tidal surge up Raritan and Newark Bays that took out five electrical substations - 2.4 million households in New Jersey without any power today."

The Red Cross is contacting volunteers to send to the Northeast to help out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, but there's no word yet on when volunteers will head out.

Volunteers who drive will likely see flooding aftermath as well.

Meanwhile, Sears has sent in 282 truckloads of merchandise, including chainsaws and generators to help out with clean up.

2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IMPACTED BY SANDY

President Obama declared New York and New Jersey major disaster areas because of Super-storm Sandy on Tuesday.

His advice to those impacted was to listen to warnings from state and local officials, and keep themselves a safe as they can.

He's monitoring Sandy back at the White House, and has cancelled a Tuesday campaign appearance in Wisconsin. He will remain in Washington to monitor disaster response through at least Wednesday.

The president will travel to New Jersey to survey the storm damage with Gov. Christie and talk with impacted residents as well as first responders.

First Lady Michelle Obama remained in Chicago Tuesday, with no scheduled public events.

Mitt Romney also spoke on Sandy's impact at a campaign stop in Davenport, Iowa. He said the damage will be significant, and impact many families. He hopes voters' thoughts and prayers join his, and are of those impacted by the storm.

Iowa is one of the key battleground states in the 2012 election, which is only one week away. The latest polls show Romney trailing President Obama in Iowa by two percentage points.

Republican challenger Mitt Romney has also suspended all of his campaign operations.

In an interview with FOX News Channel, Governor Christie was also asked about Sandy's impact on the final week of campaigning. He wasn't too pleased about the question.

"I have a job to do here in New Jersey that's much bigger than presidential politics. I could care less about any of that stuff," Gov. Christie said. "I have a job to do. I have 2.4 million people out of power. I have devastation on the shore. I have floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics you don't know me."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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