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Before the heat wave: Chicago sees flooding, pea-sized hail, and thunderstorms

As if high temps weren’t enough

Lake Michigan beach shoreline with downtown Chicago in the background and a massive, cloudy thunderstorm rolling in.
A Chicago thunderstorm in 2018.

The thunderstorms rolling through Chicago Thursday morning and early afternoon will delay the uncomfortably high temperatures of the heat wave this weekend.

The storms are bringing frequent lightning, strong gusts of wind, and heavy downpours totaling up to a half-inch of new rain, according to the National Weather Service Chicago. There are also reports of occasional pea-sized hail, which is common with thunderstorms like this.

Even with rain, and hail, the high temperature for Thursday is still a sweltering 97 degrees. Friday and Saturday will likely be the hottest with highs near 100 degrees and heat indices estimated between 105 and 115 degrees. So, if you’re lucky and avoided getting drenched on your morning commute, you still have a sweaty late afternoon ahead.

In addition to the excessive heat warning that will last until Saturday night, the weather service also issued a flood warning for parts of the Chicago area until midday Thursday. Flooding will likely happen in areas with poor drainage or low-lying land.

The heavy storms followed by extreme heat will undoubtedly affect travel. Metra trains are already running slower in anticipation of the hot weather and watching out for “sun kinks” in the tracks. Drivers should be cautious as well in low-visibility and on older roads with pavement that might be fail. The CTA doesn’t expect the weather this weekend will affect service.

And, when the unbearable heat does arrive, we’ve rounded up some ways to stay cool.