20-Foot Waves Off Lake Michigan Pound Chicago

They call it the “Windy City” for a reason: An early winter storm brought gusting winds producing 20-foot-waves off Lake Michigan, crashing into Chicago lakefront tourist attractions and snarling traffic along one of the city’s busiest highways, according to WLS.

The early winter storm, which also brought a rare Halloween snowfall to the region, produced winds of up to 50 mph, which then slammed onto the beaches and attractions along Chicago’s Lake Michigan shore. The waves, some reaching as high as 20 feet, also caused Chicago’s Navy Pier — one of the city’s major tourist attractions — to close down a portion. A haunted house attraction which takes place on an anchored barge was also temporarily closed, although it has since re-opened, according to AOL News.

In the video below, you can see the Lake Michigan waves crashing onto the northbound lanes of Chicago’s famed Lake Shore Drive, causing drivers to trudge slowly through deep water, and bringing traffic to a snarl. At one point, the waves even reached the southbound lanes, causing the road to be shut down.

Some brave souls risked getting splashed with icy water — or worse — to see the giant Lake Michigan waves up close. Dan Reid told WLS that the waves almost cost him his life, but it was worth it.

“It’s ridiculous. I came out here to take some pictures with my dog, we almost got destroyed and sucked out to sea but, uh, it’s fun.”

Another driver said the sight of the waves crashing into the street was terrifying.

“When you’re coming down past Belmont, where you can actually see the waves crashing above the line where you’re not supposed to even see the lake – and all you see is waves crashing, it’s very scary.”

Chicago is no stranger to horrifying winter weather. In 2011, a huge snowstorm dumped up to two feet of snow on the city, leaving some motorists stranded for hours on Lake Shore Drive, unable to leave their cars because of the snow. And last winter, the so-called Polar Vortex plunged Chicago into days of temperatures so cold that even the Brookfield Zoo’s polar bears weren’t having it, and went inside, according to this Inquisitr report.

Further north along Lake Michigan, the winter winds produced 9-foot waves off Muskegon, Michigan, prompting some brave souls to attempt to surf the icy water, according to Michigan Live. Locals, however, are used to it, according to Coast Guard BM1 Chris Apple.

“The gales of November happen quite often. The locals are accustomed to it and most people understand the warnings and follow them pretty well.”

The Chicago weather forecast predicts warmer temperatures and calmer winds over the next few days, so no more 20-foot waves off Lake Michigan for a while, at least.

[Image courtesy of: Chicago Tribune]

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