The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for much of the Chicago area Thursday.
The flooding comes as a powerful spring storm that snarled air traffic from Denver to Chicago moved into the U.S. heartland Thursday, tormenting the region with everything from heavy snow to severe thunderstorms.
The emergency is for DuPage and Cook counties in Illinois. Widespread flooding already has been reported in the region. About 3 to 5 inches of rain have fallen in the past 24 hours, and an additional 1 to 2 inches of rainfall are expected.
"Emergency management reported that numerous roads and interstates were closed due to flooding. Reports of stranded vehicles have also been relayed in addition to flooded homes and other buildings. Some municipalities have also declared states of emergency due to the flooding," the weather service said.
"Excessive runoff from this storm will cause flooding of small creeks and streams" and affect low-lying areas.
Meanwhile, at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, about 800 flights were canceled Wednesday because of strong rainstorms. The early cancellation tally for Thursday was just over 200, according to FlightAware.com.
The service forecasts a moderate risk of severe weather from Arkansas and Mississippi to southern Michigan, but the full reach of the system stretches from Texas into Canada.
Airlines reported more than 200 cancellations at Denver International Airport on Wednesday after the storm system dumped up to 7 inches of snow in the area and much more in the mountains.
Flight delays at the Denver airport averaged just over two hours and 15 minutes on Wednesday afternoon, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
And there would be no home runs flying out of Coors Field either as snow prompted the postponement of Wednesday's night baseball game between the Colorado Rockies and New York Mets.
Parts of the state were under a blizzard warning before the storm moved to the east.
The weather system caused its share of trouble across the southern Plains.
Severe weather Wednesday evening damaged a Goodyear tire plant and other buildings around Lawton, Oklahoma, Comanche County Sheriff Kenny Stradley said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
In California, gearing up for fires
Firefighters in California are on high alert as gusty winds are expected to increase the fire danger across much of Southern California, the state's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Thursday.
The agency notes the weather service issued a Red Flag Warning starting Thursday and Friday because of moderate Santa Ana winds. The agency said gusty winds of up to 50 mph are expected across many parts of Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties. Manpower has been bulked up so crews can respond to wildfires and air tankers will be staffed.
"Fire season may only be beginning, but the potential for damaging wildfires exists this year due to our dry winter," said Chief Ken Pimlott, the agency's director. "Everyone should be extra careful during this Red Flag Warning and ensure they are ready for a wildfire."
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