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Chicago Weather: January thaw leads to flooding, dangerous potholes

Sunday, January 12, 2014
January thaw leadsto flooding, dangerous potholes Thaw has drivers avoiding potholes

From the city to the suburbs people are worried right now about two problems growing out of our harsh winter weather, potholes and the possibility of flooding.

As the snow melts with the rising temperatures, there's concern about flooding and crews are dealing all weekend with a large number of potholes.

Although a little bit ahead of the traditional pothole season in Chicago, monster potholes have been popping up all over. The rapid freeze-thaw cycle that started Friday night has also put some riverfront communities on alert.

Ice buildup is not a common reason for rising river levels, but Saturday morning in west suburban Riverside, the Des Plaines River rose over a foot in less than an hour. The increase prompted the National Weather Service to issue a flood warning, but for now the village has remained dry, for the most part.

"It's a slice of heaven as far as I'm concerned, except for the flooding," said Riverside resident Christopher Legan.

Legan's home sits on a tiny dead end street in Riverside that always floods. Last year they had to undertake a six month rebuild after the devastating April floods. Saturday night his house is still dry, barely.

"It's moving up to the garage area, but that's doable for us," he said. "The crest is supposed to be only another half a food so it's not going to hit the house probably."

The rapid freeze-thaw cycle is also responsible for the sudden pothole explosion that is taking place across the region.

In northwest Indiana, Cline Avenue is closed indefinitely because Indiana's highway department says the excessive number of potholes on the road is causing safety issues for drivers. The department has gotten a record number of calls for service due to flat tires and vehicle damage.

"I was going northbound on Cline Avenue and I ended up hitting a pothole and not even a minute after I hit there was like a chain reaction," said motorist Baldemar Montemayor. "There were six other cars that hit and we ended up calling the police."

In fact, local mechanics say business is up significantly. Just since Friday night, people have been coming in with all sorts of damage as a result of hitting a pothole.

"We're seeing bent rims and blown out tires. We've seen a lot of that (Saturday)," said mechanic Alfredo Menchaca.

Meanwhile, on 35th Street near U.S. Cellular Field Mayor Rahm Emanuel was out thanking local pothole repair crews, who are now going nonstop.

"They've done 18,000 since Thursday and will be out here seven days a week, weather permitting," Emanuel said.

For those wishing to report a pothole within Chicago, you can call 311, or report it online at

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