Chicago area residents encouraged to help prevent flooding - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Chicago area residents encouraged to help prevent flooding

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With the mercury climbing, the snow melting and rain on the horizon, the National Weather Service has issued a flood watch for the Chicago area for Thursday.

The flood watch will go into effect at 3 a.m. and last until 6 p.m. for Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, and other surrounding counties, including several in northwest Indiana, according to the weather service.

"The combination of rainfall and snow that's on the ground right now that will be melting will lead to some pretty big runoff in the area because the ground is frozen and the water will have nowhere to go," said meteorologist Kevin Birk.

Temperatures reached 44 degrees Wednesday in the hours before a "powerhouse storm system" overnight that could bring thunderstorms and up to 1 1/2 inches of rain, the weather service said.

Birk said the heaviest rainfall will occur Thursday morning, but the storm could last throughout the afternoon. High temperatures could reach the 50s Thursday, with 25 to 35 mph sustained winds and gusts more than 50 mph expected.

Flooding is possible in areas with poor drainage, low-lying areas, and areas near streams, creeks and rivers, according to the weather service.

The city of Chicago is asking for help as thawing snow could end up in widespread flooding. Officials are asking for Chicago residents to help prevent local flooding by removing litter and debris left in their streets, which could block catch basins and cause flooding.

Catch basins are the grated openings located along street curbs designed to collect water. If drains are clear of litter and yet water is still pooling in the street for several hours, officials say residents should call Chicago's 311 service request line.

Chicago's Office of Emergency Management and Communications and its Department of Water Management are both deploying additional crews to help keep water draining as moderating temperatures melt record snowfall.

Cook, DuPage and Kane counties are also encouraging residents to be proactive. The city of Elgin prepared leaflets with weather tips for residents Wednesday afternoon.

FOX 32 News also took a look inside the Cook County Incident Command Center that opened Wednesday afternoon. The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is working with the department of Transportation and Highways, and Forest Preserves to prepare generators, sandbags and water pumps for anticipated flooding, a statement from the agency said.

DuPage County Stormwater Management will be monitoring stream levels, especially in areas notorious for the problem. Another main concern is the Des Plaines River.

Kane County told residents to not only check street drains, but make sure their sump pumps have a backup system and remove any snow or ice that surrounds the discharge of the pump. Officials also recommend shoveling or making a path for the water to travel once it leaves your home so the water doesn't quickly back up inside.

I-DOT is also cautioning morning commuters of standing water on low lying roads.

The Associated Press and Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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