By Bob Bong
The new normal for May weather appears to be rain, lots of rain.
According to the National Weather Service, this May is now officially the wettest one on record. That tops the record set last year, which topped the record set the year before.
Area motorists don’t have to be reminded how much rain has fallen this month (8.3 inches as of Tuesday) or how much fell locally during the weekend monsoon (Palos Heights led the way with 4.59 inches).
They know because getting around has become a problem with torrential downpours closing roads left, right and center amid flash flood warning across the south suburbs by the weather service.
Palos Park police said there were reports of flooded roads extending from 80th Avenue and Southwest Highway as far west as Archer and Parker roads.
While not the problem flooding has been in Lyons and Brookfield, where firefighters had to use a boat to rescue residents trapped in their homes by an overflowing Salt Creek, rain has caused street closures in Orland Park, Palos Heights and Palos Park.
Most local roads have reopened, but on Sunday, police and IDOT crews had closed major arteries across the south suburbs including Route 83, 135th Street from LaGrange to Southwest Highway, Will-Cook Road from 151st and 159th streets, 108th Avenue from 159th to 163rd streets, Kedzie Avenue from 135th to 139th streets.
As of Tuesday afternoon, IDOT said some area roads remained closed due to flooding, but flood waters were receding.
Flooded basements have also been reported in Orland Park, Palos Heights and Palos Park.
Businesses have also been affected. Joey’s Red Hots on Wolf Road in Orland Park was closed Sunday and Monday because rainwater turned the parking lot into a lake.
The National Guard COVID-19 testing station at the Markham auto emissions testing facility at 3824 W. 159th St. is out of action because rain helped collapse the only road into the facility.
Orland Park first responders also had to make a water rescue Sunday evening, according to the Northern Illinois FireGround.
A n SUV was spotted in deep water in the 16000 block of Wolf Road about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.
No one was injured and the driver made it out of his white Jeep safely.
Flooding may return this weekend after a couple of dry days as the weather service is predicting rain a possibility on Saturday and Sunday.
Residents are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when they encounter water on any roadway and keep the following information and tips in mind:
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups.
- Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
- Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
- Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If flood waters rise around your vehicle, abandon it and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.