BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — More rain is on the way for central Illinois and with that, warnings about the dangers of driving on roads that could become flooded after a month’s worth of rain fell in less than a week.
“The morning commute will be wet again” Thursday, said Scott Baker, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln “We will have rain through the morning and into the afternoon and maybe even some lingering shower activity for the drive home.”
A flash flood watch remains in effect for much of central Illinois until 7 p.m. Thursday, May 2.
The big question, after 2 to 4 inches of rain fell in the area Tuesday and Wednesday, is simple: How much more will we get?
“We can expect about another half of an inch in the Bloomington-Normal area,” said Baker.
As of Wednesday afternoon, NWS reported Bloomington-Normal had received 2 inches of rain, Downs, 3.7 inches and Minonk in Woodford County, 4 inches.
The agency issued a flood warning for McLean, Logan, DeWitt and southeastern Tazewell counties on Wednesday.
While NWS officials were debating about extending flash flood watches and warnings, all officials are telling residents to pay attention on roadways, especially near rivers and streams.
One Tazewell County sheriff's deputy learned first-hand how dangerous water on a roadway can be.
At 5:15 a.m. May 1, Deputy Nathan Hasting was dispatched to check on standing water in the area of Springtown Road, west of Minier. As he traveled east, he crested a hill, then drove into a flooded roadway, according to the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Department.
“He came to a stop immediately and tried to back out of the water when the front end of the squad car was lifted from the pavement,” said Sheriff Jeffrey Lower. “The squad car immediately began to float off the roadway into a drainage ditch with the fast-moving water. Deputy Hasting was able to climb out the driver’s side window before the squad car was swept away from the water current.”
Hasting was not hurt, Lower said, and was able to get to safety. The squad car drifted more than 500 feet, stopping in a field drainage ditch.
The rainfall caused localized flooding in nearly every community, especially in rural areas.
The Ridgeview School District canceled classes Wednesday because of flooded roadways and because the Colfax sewer system was running near capacity.
In Clinton, flooding issues were reported throughout the town late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Tenmile Creek on the city’s northwestern side overflowed its banks, flooding Moore Park and several streets on that side of town.
"We had a long night," said Public Works Director Steve Lobb, adding there were several areas around town that experienced temporary, localized flooding, but the Moore Park area was hit the hardest.
“That is the area of our most concern right now and we will have to watch it for a few days,” he said.
Officials in Pontiac are also closely watching the Vermilion River. A flood warning is in effect for those living near the river in Pontiac, downstream to Streator through Friday evening.
On Wednesday morning, the river crested at 13.2 feet; the flood stage is 14 feet and officials expect the river to crest to 16.5 feet by Thursday morning, meaning there is likely to be moderate flooding near the river. The river is expected to fall below flood stage by Friday afternoon.
On the plus side, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday appear to be rain-free, with highs near 70 degrees.