Melting snow, storms bring Midwest flood warnings

Sunday, December 28, 2008 | 4:34 p.m. CST; updated 7:36 p.m. CST, Sunday, December 28, 2008

CHICAGO — Residents of the Midwest got ready for the possibility of flooding Sunday as runoff from heavy rain and melting snowbanks bloated streams, and high wind caused new power outages for thousands in Michigan.

Flood warnings were posted Sunday over sections of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and northwest Ohio, the National Weather Service said.

Following a week of heavy snow, ice and subzero temperatures, meteorologists said temperatures would rise into the 30s Sunday in the Chicago area, following Saturday's high of 61. Farther east, New York City residents relaxed as temperatures headed for the mid-60s Sunday.

In the Chicago suburb of Riverside, authorities encouraged residents along the Des Plaines River to evacuate Saturday night as water rose. The river crested Sunday morning at the city of Des Plaines at nearly 7 feet, the weather service said. Flood stage there is 5 feet.

Des Plaines authorities closed a main road for about 10 hours during the night because of water from an overflowing retention pond, said Don Meseth, director of emergency management for the city.

"There were a few reports of water in basements," Meseth said.

In Illinois' Kane County, several dozen Boy Scouts spent Saturday morning filling 2,400 sandbags for residents to pick up as needed outside the Campton Township Highway Department. Scouts shoveled sand into the bags and stacked them in neat piles.

"They're just concerned with the way we're going to get this quick melt that all the tributaries are going to fill up," said troop leader Jeff Koehl.

Some low-lying roads were flooded early Sunday in southwest and central Missouri, the weather service said.

Wind gusted to more than 60 mph Sunday in Michigan, knocking down tree limbs and power lines and blacking out about 355,000 homes and businesses. Parts of the state also got about 4 inches of snow.

Len Singer, a spokesman for Detroit-based DTE Energy Co., said more outages were possible and it could be days before power is fully restored.

On Saturday, a line of powerful thunderstorms swept across a wide swath of the Midwest, packing wind gusts of 60 to 70 mph in Illinois, said weather service meteorologist Patrick Bak. The storms also produced hail, and funnel clouds were reported in Missouri.

High wind also blew away a large section of the roof of a school district administrative building in Springfield, Ill.

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