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Storm System Floods Parts Of Chicago, Threatens Tornadoes

A motorist drives through standing water in a flooded underpass on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois.

A motorist drives through standing water in a flooded underpass on Thursday in Chicago, Illinois. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Scott Olson/Getty Images

A large storm system moving through the center of the country, has already caused major flooding in Chicago and is threatening to bring severe weather to the Tennessee Valley all the way to the Gulf Coast, tonight.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency Thursday afternoon, NBC Chicago reported.

"Heavy rainfall over the past few days has created dangerous flooding in areas across the state," Quinn said. "Everyone should stay home and off the roads if possible. To ensure safety as these storms continue, people should be alert and avoid flooded areas."

The Chicago Tribune reports that the weather system has dumped a half-foot of rain. The paper adds:

"High waters already led to intermittent closures of most major expressways, but now officials throughout the city and suburbs are eyeing rapidly rising river levels along with drainage problems that are stranding motorists and blocking thoroughfares."

"Gov. Pat Quinn has activated the State Incident Response Center in Springfield to speed up assistance to public safety officials in areas affected by the storm."

One of the more dramatic developments happened in the southeast side of Chicago, when a sinkhole swallowed three cars, injuring one person, the AP reports.

NBC News posted this video:

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Weather.com says the same system will continue east and bring severe weather all along on the Eastern Seaboard.

The Washington Post reports that this storm system has already produced reports of "two tornadoes, 50 instances of damaging winds, and 113 reports of large hail."

The Post explains what's going on meteorologically:

"A volatile mix of atmospheric ingredients has set the stage for today's outbreak. The jet stream has carved a massive trough through the Plains allowing cold air to crash southward out of Canada. Ahead of this trough, very warm, moist air is surging north from the Gulf of Mexico towards the Great Lakes. The transition zone between these contrasting airmasses is primed for severe weather."

We'll keep an eye on the the weather and update this post if anything significant occurs.

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