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Sandy's Winds And Rain Cause Flood Warnings, Flight And Train Cancellations

CHICAGO (CBS)-- As Hurricane Sandy barrels down on the East Coast, Chicago is also feeling its effects, with flights and trains cancelled and people being urged to stay away from the lakefront due to a flood warning.

As of 10:30 a.m., more than 400 flights have been cancelled at O'Hare International Airport and more than 90 at Midway Airport due to the storm, according to the city Department of Aviation.

Flight Aware reported 2,500 U.S. cancellations for Monday, and airlines are waiving fees for travelers who need to rebook flights and are offering refunds in some cases.

Amtrak has also cancelled four inbound and outbound trains scheduled to make stops in New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

Amtrak on Sunday canceled its Capitol Limited service between Chicago and Washington. It also scrapped nearly all service on the eastern seaboard starting Sunday night and said a decision will come later on when the trains can resume.

Passengers who have paid for trains but choose not to travel can receive a refund or a voucher for a later date.

The Chicago Park District has advised people to stay away from the lakefront due to high winds and expected high waves.

The National Weather Service has issued a lake shore flood warning effective from 1 a.m. Tuesday to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

The outer reaches of Hurricane Sandy are expected to move across the Great Lakes on Monday night through Wednesday.

Northerly winds of 50 to 60 miles per hour will occur on Lake Michigan from late Monday through Tuesday evening.

Flooding could occur on Lake Shore Drive and on the lakefront bicycle and pedestrian path.

Weather service meteorologist Amy Seeley said the flood concern stems not from rain, but from winds on the fringe on the hurricane. She said the only Sandy-related precipitation the region could see will be some showers in northwest Indiana around midweek.

The larger concern is winds of up 60 mph expected to churn Lake Michigan waters starting Monday and continue for about 48 hours. The weather service said winds probably will reach gale- or storm-force.

Wave heights are expected to reach 18 to 23 feet along the Cook County shoreline, and could top 25 feet in northwest Indiana, the NWS said.

The large waves are expected to batter the beaches and shorelines. The bike paths along the Chicago lakeshore and South Lake Shore Drive, as well as piers and break walls, could be significantly impacted.

Mariners without the proper experience or equipment should stay on land, forecasters said. The waves will batter beaches and are expected to cause shoreline erosion.

The storm however, will not affect the city's water taxi service or tour boats on the Chicago River, according to a spokesman for Wendella Boat Tours, which also operates the water taxis.

Evanston's dog beach will be also closed until further notice because of "dangerous high waves and winds," a statement from the city said.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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