Rain Ends, But Flooding Continues In Illinois
Flood warnings are in effect across central and southern Illinois a day after a winter storm brought sleet and icy rain.
The flood warning issued by the National Weather Service continues for much of central Illinois, including the Champaign-Urbana, Charleston, Effingham, Danville and Decatur areas until 3:30 Tuesday afternoon.
Moderate flooding was reported on the Sangamon River at Monticello and the Vermilion River near Danville.
Flooding in the Douglas County town of Villa Grove from the Embarras River prompted authorities to impose a Tuesday evening overnight curfew for the second night in a row.
Illinois Route 130 remains closed in Villa Grove. Other road closures announced by the Illinois Department of Transportion include a US Route 36 in Douglas County from Newman to Illinois Route 49, and a portion of Bongard Road in Champaign County.
The Champaign County Highway Department says floodwaters are starting to recede in the northern part of the county Tuesday. But Maintenance Supervisor Tracy Wingler says it will be at least another day before conditions improve in Sidney in the southern part.
Wingler says there have been so many flooded roads in Champaign County that they ran out of barricades Monday to warn motorists.
“That was a big concern of ours – people commuting out through the county, and coming up on some water than wasn’t marked with signs and possibly trying to drive through it," he said. "But I haven’t gotten any reports that we had that last night, which is good. So hopefully, maybe the worst of this is over.”
Wingler says another concern is the dropping temperatures, and the chance of snow in Wednesday's forecast. Wingler says he’ll have staff checking for slick spots by early morning, and spreading salt. He advises anyone driving where there’s been standing water to take their time:
“Some of these areas we don’t have water standing on the road anymore," he said. "The pavement is still wet. That’s something we want to keep an eye on for slick spots, but hopefully, as (Tuesday) night goes on, it gets colder, maybe the water that gets on the pavement will evaporate or freeze dry, so that we won’t have that many slick spots, but it’s still something to be careful about in the rural areas.”
Flooding from the East Branch of the Embarras has also closed Bongard Road, which runs east from Route 130 in the southern part of Champaign County.
According to the News-Gazette, flooded roadways have also meant the closure of Kickapoo State Park in Vermilion County.
IDOT said several roadways were also closed in southern Illinois because of flooding, including Interstate 70 near Pleasant Mound and roads along the Mississippi River near Chester and the Shawnee National Forest.
The Monday storm brought as much as 3.5 inches of ice accumulation in Rockford and had peak wind gusts of 53 mph in Waukegan.
Ameren Illinois reported about 23,000 power outages, largely in the Galesburg and Peoria area, on Tuesday morning.
A climatologist says the Pacific Ocean gets the credit for the wetter and warmer-than-usual weather this December that’s led to the rain and freezing rain that fell on Illinois.
Climatologist Jim Angel with the Illinois State Water Survey says the El Nino weather pattern --- formed over the Pacific --- is at least part of the reason we’re seeing temperatures this month averaging 10 to 12 degrees above normal, although that’s not necessarily why we’ve gotten so much rain.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag on the rainfall side, or even the precipitation in general,” said Angel. “It’s been some years where we’ve been wet and other years we’ve been dry. So it’s not a very good predictor of winter precipitation. But it is fairly consistent with these strong events, as far as our winter temperatures being milder.”
Angel says it’s likely that we will end the month of December with no measurable snowfall in Champaign-Urbana for the second straight year. He says that current forecast models predict cooler temperatures and drier conditions in the early part of 2016.
More than 600 flights into, out of or across the U.S. have been canceled and 319 have been delayed due to the large storm system that has moved on to the East Coast.
That's down significantly from Monday evening, when about 7,600 flights were affected.
Flight-tracking service FlightAware showed that of the 805 cancellations, about 200 were at Chicago O'Hare International Airport.
A typical day sees about 150 cancelations and 4,000 delays.