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WEATHER ALERT: Severe storms expected late this afternoon and evening

Thunderstorms Flood Roads In Gibson City

Flooding along Illinois Route 47 in Gibson City on Thursday afternoon. Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard described the flooded road as "nearly impassable".

URBANA – A nearly stationary line of heavy thunderstorms brought flooding Thursday to the uppermost part of the Sangamon River Valley in Champaign, Ford and McLean Counties.

Meteorologist Andrew Pritchard estimates that six to nine inches of rain fell in those counties, from early Thursday morning into the afternoon.  

He blamed the flooding on what’s known as a “training” storm. That’s when storm cells move along a nearly stationary line of thunderstorms — like a line of train cars — leading to hours of rainfall in one area. Soil saturation from previous recent rainfall was also a factor.

In Ford County, Pritchard says he saw at least a foot of water on Illinois Highway 47 on the south side of Gibson City.

Some of the highways, you know, I was seeing vehicles who were attempting to get across some of these roads,” said Pritchard, who visited Gibson City around 2 P.M. on Thursday . “And the water was coming up to the windows on some of these vehicles. So it’s certainly a foot or two deep in some of these areas, maybe a little bit more than that.”

Pritchard warns against trying to drive through flooded streets, because of the danger of a vehicle being swept away by a flood current.

“The water is moving,” said Pritchard. “It has a flow to it. And it doesn’t take very much to dislodge your vehicle and begin to carry it. So don’t attempt to cross any of these highways.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced Thursday afternoon that all three of the state roads (Routes 9, 47 and 54) that run through Gibson City had been closed. Pritchard says rainfall amounts were also particularly heavy in Rantoul, Fisher, Bellflower, Saybrook, Ellsworth and surrounding areas.



Picture of Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows

Jim Meadows has been covering local news for WILL Radio since 2000, with occasional periods as local host for Morning Edition and All Things Considered and a stint hosting WILL's old Focus talk show. He was previously a reporter at public radio station WCBU in Peoria.

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Central Illinois radar image

Severe storms possible Thursday evening and overnight

From the National Weather Service in Central Illinois: A line of t’storms will affect the area late Thursday afternoon into the overnight hours. Some severe storms are in the forecast, with damaging wind gusts and large hail. Stay weather aware and be ready to take shelter when storms approach.