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High Winds Bring Major Damage, Waves Close Part Of Lakefront Bike Path

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Wind Damage: Car Crushed

The wind sent bricks crashing down onto this car in the Little Village neighborhood. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 09/30/11 3:57 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — The blasting winds resulted in serious damage overnight, from bricks that came crashing down onto parked cars to dangerous electrical fires. Huge waves from the wind also forced the closure of part of Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.

CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros says as of Friday morning, the wind advisory had been called off for most of the Chicago area. But it remained in effect in Northwest Indiana and the on west coast of Michigan until early Friday afternoon, as sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph continued.

But the Chicago area is not out of the woods. Gusts in the 20s and 30s are expected to continue, and gusts of 38 mph were reported at O’Hare International Airport in the early morning hours.

And a rip current risk remained in effect until 7 p.m. Chicago time on Saturday, with a high risk of rip currents on Lake Michigan on Friday and Saturday.

As CBS 2’s Roseanne Tellez reports, the wind remained strong enough Friday morning to send high waves 10 to 16 feet high crashing onto the shore of the lake. For that reason, the Lakefront Trail was closed from Fullerton Drive to Oak Street on Friday morning. The Chicago Park District had originally put up barricades notifying people of the closure, but after pedestrians and bikers ignored those signs and barricades, police sent uniformed officers to enforce the closure.

The waves at Oak Street Beach made work difficult for crews tearing down the seasonal Beachstro restaurant. Owner Anthony Priola said he’s never seen it this bad.

“I’d have to say in 13 years being out here, this is the worst,” he said.

His brother Johnny said the dining room, had it not just been dismantled, would be under water on Friday.

Even though the Lakefront Trail was closed Friday morning, that didn’t stop crowds of onlookers from hitting the lakefront to check out the waves.

Most runners and bikers who saw the barricades heeded the warning and diverted, but some who did get too close wound up regretting it.

Priola saw a dog walker hit the deck when she got hit by an incoming wave.

“I turned and she was on her back. I felt bad,” he said. “I’m wet up to my you-know-what.”

At area marinas, boats were bobbing, but no damage was reported. Harbor tenders were on hand to take boat owners out to double-check their moorings.

Despite the winds and the warnings, one daring duo who headed out to the lakefront for some wedding photos. What a day they picked.

“Well we had to work with what we had,” said the barefoot Irena Svidovsky, wearing her fiancé’s suit coat over a sleeveless short white dress.

The soon-to-be married couple said they’d been dodging raindrops all week to get their wedding photos, so today looked good to them since the rain had stopped.

“We were here on our first date 6 years ago. This is where we spent part of our day,” Phil Fernandez said. “It was a better day, about 20 degrees warmer.”

Although lots of people showed up at the lakefront with cameras, it was a dangerous situation thanks to the rip current warning.

The Coast Guard said that even their boats are not permitted to launch in conditions like these.

Meantime, in Northwest Indiana, semi-trailer trucks were banned from area highways unitl 2 p.m., over fears that they might topple over in the wind.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, those winds wreaked havoc across the Chicago area overnight.

In the 2300 block of South California Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood, just a few blocks from the Cook County Criminal Courthouse, hundreds of chunks of brick came cascading down like an avalanche from a two-story apartment building. The bricks fell on the street, sidewalks and two cars.

One car ended up with a busted back window. The other was completely smashed.

“It was their only car. That’s the one that they both use to go to work,” said Daisy Guerrero, the niece of the couple whose car was destroyed.

Meanwhile in Glenview, a power line came down, causing sparks and then a huge, buzzing fire in a backyard in the 2300 block of Dewes Street.

Luckily, no one was hurt in either incident.

In Chesterton, Ind., a tree fell onto a house in the 700 block of South Calumet Avenue. The house remained inhabitable, but sustained extensive roof damage, the Sun-Times Media Wire reported.

As of late morning, fewer than 4,000 ComEd customers were without power. The southern suburbs were hit hardest. At the height of the outages, there were 31,000 customers without power.

Downtown, the wind was strong enough Thursday night to leave affixed metal signs whipping around. But people were taking it in stride.

“This is Chicago, you know. You can’t complain. Just get used to it,” one woman said.

And don’t be surprised if on your way to work or school, your hair gets a little tangled up.

“It’s very windy, especially at this place. I don’t know why it’s all this windy,” a woman said.

“A little more windy, and my Prius is going to go down the street all by itself,” a man said.

Also, in some places, waves of 20 feet were reported on Lake Michigan. WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports the waves wreaked havoc in Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan in particular.

It was impossible to stand on the beach, or even close to it, without getting sandblasted, as the wind rendered the air full of sand. Approaching a beach in Michigan City, Ind., by car, even the windshield was covered with sand.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Meanwhile, waves were crashing where there was beach land a day earlier, pounding the shoreline and creating concerns about serious erosion.

A lake shore flood warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. Friday.

The temperatures will be chilly Friday as the wind continues with showers in the morning. The forecast high is only 58 degrees, with an overnight low of 47.

But far to the west, the overnight temperatures will border on winter coat weather, and patchy frost is possible. In St. Charles and DeKalb, the low is expected to drop to 34 degrees.

On Saturday night into Sunday morning, the low drops to 42, and the low 30s are possible in some far west suburban areas. But the low 70s return on Monday.

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