CHICAGO (CBS) — Lake Michigan storm surge inundated beaches, parks, and even the backs of some homes Saturday as a winter storm pounded the Chicago area.
As CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported, people came up to the corner of Sheridan Road and Eastlake Terrace – the northernmost intersection in the city limits – with phones in hand to get some documentation of the ferocious waves.
But between the icy rain, the wind, and the spray from the waves, it was uncomfortable. And for some, it was destructive
Twitter user Bo Rodda shared Twitter video of severe flooding on Eastlake Terrace in the northernmost section of Rogers Park. Like few other places in the city, homes come right up to the lake on Eastlake Terrace.
“Serious and damaging surf in Rogers Park from Lake Michigan this morning,” Rodda tweeted just after noon. “Storm surge is insane.”
— Bo Rodda (@b0rodda) January 11, 2020
Meanwhile, Fred Morton said in 31 years of living in along the lake in Rogers Park, he has never seen anything like what he saw on Saturday.
The lake water rushed into Fred Morton’s building, crashing through a door, and flooding the boat room.
A red kayak that appeared to be tied to a column was buoyant in the brown, mucky water in the boat room. A ride on it would not be so pleasurable.
“The waves have been building all day, and we thought we had the boat room secured,” Morton said. “But then the waves just overtook the beach and we couldn’t keep up with it.”
Across the street, a garage of an apartment building was flooded. Former 49th Ward Ald. Joe Moore happens to live there.
“The waves were so large they went over the fence onto the driveway that goes down into the parking garage,” Moore said.
Moore was able to get his car out before the flood, but three other vehicles were left behind and probably totaled.
“No doubt,” Moore said.
And back at Morton’s building, the water pumps were going to be on all night.
“It’s been a day of chaos,” Morton said. “I’ve never been in a hurricane, but I believe it’s just like a hurricane.”
The Saturday wave wallop came on the heels of ongoing problems involving the lake for residents of Eastlake Terrace north of Howard Street.
In November, CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported that area resident Stuart Meyer saw his deck collapse and had water rushing in through his basement during a winter storm back on Halloween.
The beaches in Rogers Park are eroding from the water levels too.
Juneway Terrace Park was once home to a small, but popular beach. Now it is home to sinking concrete, and land that continues to erode.
On Saturday, beaches all through Rogers Park, from Juneway Terrace down to Loyola University, were flooded and invaded by crashing waves.
“Our beaches are completely covered, so we’ve got these high waves both at Touhy all the way down to Pratt,” said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th). “The water’s just taken over the park.”
“I think it’s kind of crazy, right?” said Sam Dunne. “Because I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Viewer Christopher Jobson shared a video of high waves at Pratt Beach. He told CBS 2 there is damage to the shoreline, with is completely under water.
Unquestionably the worst flooding I've ever seen in Chicago @ Pratt Beach right now. This is sidewalks, the volleyball area, dunes, and shoreline completely covered in deep water. The damage to the shoreline will be awful. Global warming is real folks, even in the midwest. pic.twitter.com/Al2NZdqiof
— Christopher Jobson (@christopherjobs) January 11, 2020
The waves are also tested thousands of feet of jersey barriers and sandbags that were put in place to protect the shoreline.
“Just the size and the consistency of these waves – they are battering both our private and our public infrastructure,” Hadden said
But some rocks that have been set up to protect the shoreline at Juneway Terrace are doing their job, Hadden said.
“The boulders we have here are already paying for themselves which is great,” she said. “They’re taking the beating.”
People in the area said without recently-installed barriers and without sandbags, the flooding would have been worse.
Flooding was also seen just to the north in Evanston, where police warned drivers of dangerous conditions along Sheridan Road and the Calvary Cemetery. Winds are causing high waves.
Drive carefully along Sheridan Rd/Calvary Cemetery in #Evanston. The winds are causing water from #LakeMichigan to come onto the roadway. @EvanstonPW is working on the issue. Find alternate route. @WBBM780Traffic @WGNtraffic @TotalTrafficCHI pic.twitter.com/gQPRksdcl8
— Evanston, IL Police (@EvanstonPD) January 11, 2020
Evanston police likewise people to use caution going near the lakefront, especially as daylight starts to fade.
#LakeMichigan is drawing a lot of curious residents. Please be careful if you are going down by the lakefront, especially as daylight starts to fade. You wouldn’t want EPD and @EvanstonFD to come save you, we will but you wouldn’t want us to have to. Video location 800 Sheridan. pic.twitter.com/jSHrDMI2Dw
— Evanston, IL Police (@EvanstonPD) January 11, 2020
Several miles to the south, Twitter user Craig Shimala tweeted a video showing waves crashing up onto the lakefront trail and even breaching the North Avenue Beach Chess Pavilion.
DON'T RISK GETTING TOO CLOSE!
If you get pulled in, it could be deadly. And cold water temperatures will lead to hypothermia quickly.
I really hope we don't have any "looky-loos" that go missing today. STAY SAFE! https://t.co/gMO8uuTYq6
— Robb Ellis (@WxRobb) January 11, 2020
CBS 2 Meterologist Robb Ellis emphasized that everyone should keep their distance from dangerous waves.
“If you get pulled in, it could be deadly. And cold water temperatures will lead to hypothermia quickly. I really hope we don’t have any ‘looky-loos’ that go missing today,” Ellis tweeted. “STAY SAFE!”
Evanston police likewise reminded people to use caution going near the lakefront, especially as daylight starts to fade.
Elsewhere in the area, South Shore Drive between 67th and 71st streets were closed for much of the day amid the high waves.
Near the Ohio Street Beach, waves ripped concrete from the Lakefront Bike Path.
All lanes on northbound Lake Shore Drive were open as of 3 p.m. The far right lane between Oak Street and North Avenue had been closed earlier.
And far to the north in the Lake County suburb of Lake Bluff, Twitter user Landon posted video showing major damage at Sunrise Beach and Park.
SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE at Sunrise Park and Beach in Lake Bluff, IL. Parking lot rail guard torn off and bent, plus pavement RIPPED off the parking lot into chunks and thrown back by bigger waves with lots of debris. @NWSChicago @MikeHamernik #ilwx pic.twitter.com/vYnM7KKYfF
— ❄️Landon❄️ (@swagbro50) January 11, 2020
A parking lot rail guard was torn off and bent, and pavement was ripped from the parking lot, Landon wrote.