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.