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Major storms hit north central US

Thousands lose power as high winds and rain batters Chicago, Detroit

CHICAGO (UPI) | October 20, 2011

The Chicago area was hit with a second day of rain, high winds and Lake Michigan waves up to 25 feet, the National Weather Service said.

In Detroit, high winds overnight knocked out power to thousands of customers and brought down tree branches and utility wires.

The wind and huge waves Wednesday forced closure of part of the popular lakeshore bike and jogging path in Chicago. WGN-TV, Chicago, reported more than a dozen boats broke free and some smashed into others, with damage estimates at more than $1 million.

Winds of 40 mph and 20-plus-foot waves hampered the Chicago Police Department's Marine Unit's effort to salvage the boats near Monroe Harbor. No injuries were reported.

Winds pushed other boats into the breakwall near the Shedd Aquarium Wednesday night, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Northeast winds of 40-45 mph, with gusts reaching 60 mph, were forecast Thursday, with the strongest winds next to Lake Michigan.

A lakeshore flood warning was extended until 4 p.m. Thursday, with heavy rains and waves from 14 feet to 25 feet predicted.

In Detroit, overnight winds knocked out power to about 20,000 DTE Energy customers, and power had been restored for about half of them Thursday, The Detroit News reported.

About 6,000 customers remained without power Thursday morning and 3,000 in Wayne County, DTE said.

Power outages forced the closing of Ludington Magnet Middle School and Schulze Elementary-Middle School, Detroit Public Schools officials said.

Meteorologist Matt Mosteiko of the National Weather Service said the Detroit metro area got a 1 1/2 to 2 inches of rain and sustained winds of 20 mph, with gusts at 30 mph.

In the Chicago area, about 7,100 ComEd customers were without electricity early Thursday, ComEd spokeswoman Arlana Johnson said. Most of the power outages occurred in the city and the near west suburbs, the remainder in northern Illinois.

ComEd opened its emergency command center and brought in extra crews.

Downed tree limbs and power lines were expected, and those living in high-rises were urged to bring balcony furniture indoors to keep it from blowing away.

Copyright 2011 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.

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