High winds crack Loop high-rise window; big waves hit lakefront

SHARE High winds crack Loop high-rise window; big waves hit lakefront
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Strong waves crash along the Lake Michigan shoreline near 31st Street Beach, Thursday morning, April 6, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Several Loop street closures went into effect early Thursday afternoon because of falling debris after a window cracked at a building on Wacker Drive.

Franklin is closed between Washington and Lake; Randolph is closed between Wells and Wacker, and westbound Wacker is closed between Clark and LaSalle, according to Fire Media Affairs.

About 11:20 a.m., a window on the upper floor of a building located at 111 W. Wacker broke, Fire Media said. The street and sidewalk were partially closed, and a window company was at the scene.

CTA No. 151 Sheridan, No. 156 LaSalle, No. 7 Harrison and No. 126 Jackson buses were temporarily rerouted in the area.

Streets had been closed earlier Thursday after high winds cracked a window in another high-rise building.

The street closures started shortly after 2 a.m., when a window cracked at 155 N. Wacker, according to Chicago Police.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning in Chicago until 4 p.m. Thursday. Winds of 30 to 40 mph could have gusts of 50 to 60 mph, leading to property damage, making for difficult driving and causing high waves along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

High waves — some as high as 15 to 22 feet — had started Wednesday night and weren’t expected to fully ebb until Friday, weather service meteorologist Ricky Castro said.

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GalleryFlooding is possible along the Chicago lakefront and parts of northeast Illinois and far northwest Indiana, according to a lakeshore flood warning issued by the weather service.

Despite the weather warning, surfer Rex Flodstrom and fellow surfers are ready to hit the waves Thursday morning.

“We’re gonna go look for them,” Flodstrom, 45, said, referring to 6-to-8-foot-tall waves ideal for surfing.

Flodstrom, an artist who has been surfing for more than two decades, made national headlines in January 2012 after he was arrested for surfing off Oak Street Beach, where surfing is banned. Flodstrom agreed to perform 20 hours of community service in exchange for the charges being dropped.

Surfing was once illegal off all Chicago beaches. It is now permitted year-round at the Montrose and 57th Street beaches, and between Labor Day and Memorial Day at Osterman and Rainbow beaches as well, according to the Chicago Park District’s website, which has additional rules for kiteboarding and windsurfing.

Rex Flodstrom rides a wave on Lake Michigan at Whiting Park in Whiting, Indiana, in 2011. | Sun-Times file photo

Rex Flodstrom rides a wave on Lake Michigan at Whiting Park in Whiting, Indiana, in 2011. | Sun-Times file photo

Flodstrom is unsure exactly where he and his friends will be surfing, but he predicts somewhere along the South Shore to be an ideal spot. People also surf in northwest Indiana.

“Everybody have fun and be safe out there,” Flodstrom said.

On Wednesday, the Weather Service also issued a hazardous-weather outlook for northeast and north-central Illinois, predicting winds of 40 to 50 mph near the lakefront Wednesday night. Some gusts of wind are expected to reach 60 miles per hour.

Castro strongly encouraged pedestrians and bikers to keep away from the lakefront. He predicted the high waves are likely to flood sections of the lakefront bike path and could disrupt traffic on Lake Shore Drive.

Blue Island resident Rene Padilla died after trying to rescue one of daughters Thursday in Lake Michigan near the 31st Street Beach. | Chicago Sun-Times file photo.

Strong waves crash along the Lake Michigan shoreline near 31st Street Beach on Thursday morning. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Sun-Times file photo

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