Heavy rains flood Chicago roads and force NASCAR to cut short a downtown street race

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In this image taken from video provided by ABC7 Chicago, several vehicles are stranded in the flooded viaduct at Fifth and Cicero avenues, in Chicago, Sunday, July 2, 2023. (ABC7 Chicago via AP)

CHICAGO – Heavy rains flooded Chicago streets Sunday, trapping cars and forcing NASCAR officials to cancel the last half of an Xfinity Series race set to run through the city's downtown.

The National Weather Service warned the flooding could be “life-threatening,” with numerous impassable roads, overflowing creeks and streams and flooded basements across the Chicago area. Up to 6 inches of rain fell in suburban Cicero and Berwyn by midday, according to t he NWS website. Flood warnings had mostly expired by evening.

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The Illinois State Police said parts of Interstate 55 and Interstate 290 have been closed because of flooding, with at least 10 cars trapped in water on Interstate 55 near Pulaski Road, a major north-south thoroughfare in the city. Trains were stopped in some parts of the city as well.

Katera Fisher's car “just started floating” when she tried to drive through high water.

“So, my first reaction was to try and get out of the car. I opened the door, and the water started flooding my feet,” Fisher told WLS-TV.

NASCAR officials had planned to complete the last half of an Xfinity Series race through the city's downtown on Sunday morning after suspending action on Saturday due to lightning. They announced around midday Sunday they had decided to cancel the race because of the rain and declared Cole Custer the winner.

NASCAR's Cup Series race started running through downtown Sunday afternoon.

The start of the Chicago Cubs' afternoon game against the Cleveland Guardians at Wrigley Field remains delayed.

Ricky Castro, a meteorologist in the NWS' Chicago office in suburban Romeoville, said a storm system was pinwheeling over the area rather than moving east, giving it time to pull moisture from the atmosphere and leading to heavy rainfall. All of the concrete in the metropolitan area prevents the rain from seeping into the earth, resulting in flooding, he said.

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