When most people envision the impending disaster of climate change, it typically involves wildfires, melting glaciers and rising seas. Chicago and other cities on the Great Lakes are threatened by none of these, but that doesn’t mean they’re invulnerable to global warming.
The mid-May storms that broke over Chicago were perhaps a sign of what’s to come. More than 6 inches of rain fell in four days beginning May 14. By May 18, the Chicago River overflowed its banks, swamping several of downtown’s iconic sites. The Willis Tower’s electrical vault flooded, plunging the 110-story building into complete darkness for the first time in its 47-year history. Chicago’s new Riverwalk also flooded, forcing the pedestrian waterfront park and tourist draw to close as well.
Experts say such storms are likely to come more frequently as the Earth heats up in the years ahead. And even though local governments have for decades poured funds into new stormwater infrastructure, it’s unlikely even the many miles of new tunnels and reservoirs can handle all the severe storms…
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