Weekend Weather Break Forecast for Drenched Midwest

CHICAGO, Illinois, August 24, 2007 (ENS) - Waves of stalled weather fronts have caused repeated days of thunderstorms over northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin, northern Indiana, northwest Ohio this week and ar continuing. A number of locations are dealing with six day rainfall totals near 12 inches and rivers near record crests.

The last of these stalled systems will affect an area from Kansas to Lower Michigan on August 24, 2007 with heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. By Saturday, the Plains and Midwest will be almost entirely rain free, finally allowing the flood waters to recede, according to the National Weather Service.

Beginning Wednesday and continuing, severe storms producing strong winds, hail and heavy rainfall moved into the Midwest causing flooding and flash flooding across central and northern Iowa.

Widespread to scattered thunderstorms are likely to continue through Friday evening. Some storms may be severe with heavy rain possible leading to another round of flash flooding, mostly along the I-80 corridor and northern portions of Ohio.

Severe storms moved through Chicago and northeast Illinois Thursday afternoon, causing power outages in Cook, Knox, LaSalle and Warren counties, as well as downed trees, and roof damage to several buildings.

At 3:30 pm local time on Thursday, the Exelon Nuclear Power Plant at Braidwood had one unit manually shut down by the operators due to loss of vacuum caused by the automatic shut down of two circulating water pumps. This is standard protocol with this type of mechanical failure and the reactor was shut down without incident.

Braidwood Unit 1 is still at power and both reactors at the Braidwood site are stable. This is not a classifiable incident under federal regulations and poses no danger to the public or the workers at the station. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified.

In Ohio, the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington Thursday deployed a seven member Disaster Assistance Response Team, DART, to help in search and rescue operations for flood victims in the town of Finley and parts west along the Blanchard River.

Water rescue and evacuation teams from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are going door-to-door with the Coast Guard team in affected areas.

Record flood levels are expected in the north central part of the state and in the towns of Findley and Bucyrus over the next 48 to 72 hours. Cresting is expected over the next 48 hours, but some delay may occur due to the threat of continued rain, forecasters said.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has declared state emergencies for nine counties, and there are currently 24 state and U.S. Highways blocked due to floodwaters and 11 restricted roadways.

In Minnesota, severe flooding hit the southeastern part of the state last week bringing between eight and eleven inches of rain and more rainfall is still in the forecast for the state.

President George W. Bush Thursday signed a Major Disaster Declaration for six Minnesota counties that frees up federal funds to cope with the worst of the flooding.

In Indiana, debris from last week's storms has been removed from major roadways which are now passable. Removal operations continuing on minor roadways that are partially blocked with downed trees.

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