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Sandy Whips Up Waves, Winds On Lake Michigan

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Waves crash the break wall along Lake Shore Drive near  Fullerton. (CBS)

Waves crash the break wall along Lake Shore Drive near Fullerton. (CBS)

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UPDATED: 10/30/2012 – 4:36 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – Huge waves and high winds are pounding the lakefront along Chicago and Northwest Indiana on Tuesday– all from the massive superstorm that has devastated much of the East Coast.

Officials are telling residents to stay away from the lakefront path, although several joggers and bikers were ignoring that advice on Tuesday morning.

Waves created by Hurricane Sandy were seen crashing over the break wall at Ohio Street, and those waves could rise to more than 20 feet, created by wind gusts up to 55 miles per hour.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya Reports From North Avenue Beach

Waves were washing over the bike path near Fullerton, and water spray was hitting cars on Lake Shore Drive. Near the Shedd Aquarium, water was leaping well over the break wall.

Kris Habermehl captured the waves from Chopper 2 and reported getting “whipped around like a whiffle ball in a washing machine.”

The National Weather Service has issued a lake shore flood warning until 4 a.m. Wednesday.

The lakefront path has been closed between Oak Street and Fullerton. All outdoor activities at Navy Pier are also closed, including the iconic Ferris Wheel.

Along the Indiana Dunes, winds were whipping sand and creating large swells. Much of the beach on Beverly Shores was swallowed up by water, WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser Reports From Beverly Shores

CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports the Lundy family, along with dozens of others, ventured out to experience the fallout from Sandy along the dunes in Portage Park.

“It’s so windy, I think I’m going to get blown away,” said Harmony Lundy.

“They were excited to come. They might topple over. They wanted to walk to the lakefront, I said no,’’ said Harmony’s mom, Tina Lundy of Merrillville

The beach is empty and no one would dare to sit here. But for the Lundys, watching the waves from a safe spot is something they wouldn’t pass up.

Lifetime residents said they have never seen waves this big.

CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports, despite requests by officials to stay away from the lakefront, the wild weather drew plenty of folks who just couldn’t stay away from the beaches in northwest Indiana.

It’s an attraction that, like a magnet, drew scores of gawkers to the Indiana lakeshore. Mother Nature’s wrath was on full display in wind and water, as 20- to 30-foot waves and howling winds blasted the beaches, making it difficult to stand your ground.

As the wind blew rain right in his face along the lakeshore in Whiting, Ind., Frank Ickis said, “it’s pretty chilly, but I’m glad I’m here, and not out East.”

The further east you go, the worse the storm’s effects. That was true in Portage, Ind., where a driving rain had begun by early Tuesday afternoon. As the winds picked up, officials there placed the jetty off-limits, out of concern for the safety of visitors.

Still, some dared take the full brunt of the elements head on by walking along the paths on the lakeshore.

Andrew Medanich said he was attraced by “20 foot waves, which you don’t usually see on the southern tip of the lake.

But many preferred to watch the weather show through the picture windows of the visitors’ center, perched high above the beach.

Brain Kubal said, “I’ve never seen it like this. This is the biggest waves I’ve ever seen on Lake Michigan.”

There have not been many reports of wind damage or flooding in northwest Indiana, but National Park Service officials were worried about the effects of erosion on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, just across the Illinois border in Wisconsin, the village of Pleasant Prairie is urging some homeowners to evacuate because of the high waves.

At midnight, the waves along the Pleasant Prairie shore were six feet high. Before it’s over, they could build to 18 feet.

Mike Pollocoff, the village administrator in Pleasant Prairie says that could put about 265 homes in danger of flooding. Workers were out on Tuesday morning piling up sandbags.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports On Evacuation

Village officials have gone door-to-door, notifying homeowners of the voluntary evacuation and the Red Cross is setting up emergency shelter for those who choose to leave.

Hundreds of flights to the East Coast will be suspended on Tuesday as the major airports in New York and New Jersey are closed. JFK could open on Wednesday, but online photos show LaGuardia was flooded all the way up to the boarding gates. An opening is unclear.

So far, there have been no power outages reported by ComEd, and crews are checking underground power systems near the lake in case of flooding. NIPSCO is reporting around 6.300 homes and businesses in the dark across northwest Indiana as powerful winds buffet the power lines.

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