UPDATED: 4/17/2013 – 4:45 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — A wave of strong storms will be sweeping though the Chicago area Wednesday and Thursday, prompting severe thunderstorm warnings and watches on and off.

MAP CENTER: Track The Storms

CBS 2 meteorologist Megan Glaros says a total of four inches of rain is possible in parts of the Chicago area. A number of thunderstorm warnings and watches have been issued throughout the day on Wednesday. A flood watch also was in effect for much of the area until Friday morning, with a flood warning also in effect for parts of the Des Plaines River through Saturday and Sunday.

The rain started on Wednesday morning–there were reports of marble-sized hail in some locations–and should continue through Thursday. Rainfall will be heavy at times.

Residents were packing sandbags along the Des Plaines River in Gurnee and other suburbs Wednesday afternoon, in an effort to contain the flooding.

Area streams and rivers that are currently near or at flood stage will likely rise to moderate or major flood stage, according to the National Weather Service.

The Illinois rivers include: The Des Plaines River near Russell and near Gurnee; the Fox River at Algonquin; the Illinois River at LaSalle; the Pecatonica River near Shirland; the Rock River at Rockton; and Rock River at Latham Park.

In Indiana: the Kankakee River at Shelby.

Heavy rainfall will likely lead to flooding of low-lying urban areas.

Also rainfall rates and amounts may exceed the capacity of storm drains.

A flood watch means there is a potential for flooding based on current forecasts.

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