Morning storms could still affect afternoon commuters

Drivers will have to keep their cool as they deal with broken traffic lights, downed trees and power lines on their rides home this afternoon, while commuters on several Metra lines were seeing delays this afternoon as the commuter rail agency deals with the aftereffects of this morning's heavy storms.

ComEd line workers were trying to restore service to stoplights and clear downed power lines this afternoon, and road crews cleared downed trees and branches from area roadways. Stoplights were out at several major intersections, including Archer and Harlem avenues on the Southwest Side, Rand Road and Lake-Cook Road in Palatine, and North Avenue and First Avenue in Maywood. Hardest hit, however, was Lake County, where major intersections in villages including Antioch, North Chicago, Wauconda and Gurnee were affected by traffic light problems or storm debris.

This afternoon, several Metra Union Pacific-North Line trains were running about a half-hour late, and one, the 2:10 p.m. UP-North line train scheduled to depart from Waukegan, has been cancelled. Trains on the Milwaukee District-North Line and one on the North Central line also were running late.

But Metra spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet said, barring another storm, Metra did not anticipate delays during this evening's rush.

Metra sent out more than 80 service advisories this morning due to delays on its lines, primarily caused by the storm. Most of the delays were on the three Union Pacific lines, North, Northwest and West, serving the North Shore, northwest and west suburbs, Pardonnet said. At one point, all three UP lines were shut down.

The BNSF Line and the Milwaukee District North Lines were also affected to a lesser extent.

Most of the problems were initially caused by high winds taking down trees and branches and blocking  tracks, and in at least one case, downed power lines. Further delays resulted when trains were late in arriving at their destinations and then were late turning around to head back on their new routes.

"The so-called 'domino effect' was pretty severe," Pardonnet said.

One UP North train was stuck for hours on the tracks after it was blocked by tree limbs and fallen power lines.

Train 328 departed from Waukegan at 7:50 a.m. and was due at Ogilvie Transportation Center at 9:05 a.m., but didn’t arrive until about 2 p.m. The train’s passengers were allowed to get off at the Highland Park and Lake Forest stations.

The CTA reported major delays on all its rail lines throughout the morning, although most service had resumed by around 11 a.m., and the Purple Line was running again by early this afternoon.

Tribune reporter Richard Wronski contributed to this report.

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