Worst of Wild Storm Aimed at Great Lakes

October 19, 2011; 6:54 AM ET
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Strong winds will create a similar scene along all the shores of the Great Lakes today into Thursday. Photo submitted by AccuWeather.com Facebook fan Dave H. of a rough Lake Erie on October 15, 2011.

Strong winds, heavy rain and pounding waves--the worst of a wild storm--will deliver a "Freshwater Fury" over the Great Lakes into Thursday.

Part of the same setup renewing the flood threat across the Northeast will cause wind-driven rain to slam the Midwest.

Conditions will worsen across the lower Great Lakes and lower Ohio Valley into tonight as the pelting rain unfolds. The adverse weather will then expand into central and southern Ontario tonight.

The rain will blow sideways at the height of the storm from parts of northeastern Illinois, northern Indiana, southeastern Wisconsin and Lower Michigan to central and southwestern Ontario.

While the Great Lakes will endure the worst of the wild storm, the rain-weary Northeast has not escaped the risk of flash flooding.

Widespread travel problems are expected with the storm resulting from high winds and flash and urban flooding. Downed trees, tree limbs and power outages are possible.

The worst of the storm will take aim at the waters and shores of lower Lake Michigan, including the area from Milwaukee to Chicago, and Gary and Michigan City, Ind.

Other cities bracing for nasty weather include Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids, Mich., Toledo, Ohio, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and South Bend, Ind. and Racine, Wis.

St. Louis will escape the worst of the storm, but winds will still be howling as showers persist when Game 1 of the World Series gets under way this evening.

According to Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski, "Winds capable of causing flight delays will expand to much of the central and eastern U.S. at the height of the storm's fury around the Great Lakes."

The heaviest rain totals will exceed 2 inches across southern Michigan, northern Indiana and northwestern Ohio. An intrusion of warm air into the storm's center will prevent rain from changing to snow.

Even if no flooding problems arise, motorists should prepare for reduced visibility due to downpours and a heightened risk of hydroplaning as water ponds on highways.

Flooding will also threaten north- to northeast-facing shores of the Great Lakes where persistent onshore winds howl.

"Standing or jogging right along the Michigan and Huron lakeshores will be dangerous," Sosnowski said.

Wave heights of 10 to 15 feet will pound these shores, with waves as high as 25 feet on southern Lake Michigan and western Lake Huron tonight into Thursday morning.

"Lakeshore Drive, one of Chicago's most traveled routes, could experience flooding due to the dangerous waves expected to crash onshore," stated AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards.

"Some of Chicago's nicest beaches could sustain damage," Edwards continued.

"As winds shift around to more of the northwest later during the storm, the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan will take a battering as well," added Sosnowski.

While the heaviest rain will ease, strong winds will continue to blast the Midwest Thursday. Calmer conditions will finally arrive Friday.

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