Flooding sets off La Salle County closures

Illinois River expected to remain in ‘minor’ flooding

The lower lot at Starved Rock State Park is closed Wednesday, April 3, 2024, because of the threat of flooding.

The lower parking lots at Starved Rock State Park are closed, and so is Allen Park in Ottawa. But the Illinois River was, as of late Wednesday afternoon, expected to remain in minor flood stage.

At Starved Rock, complex superintendent Alvin Harper said the lower lots were closed Monday night and the closure notices posted early Tuesday. He and his staff hope to reopen the lots as soon as the river is hovering a bit below projections.

“We’re going to reevaluate them over the next few days to see if we can reopen them,” Harper said.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, water had not inundated Starved Rock, nor Allen Park.

A string of wet days swelled the Illinois River from 6 feet below flood stage on Saturday to 4.1 feet above at midday Wednesday. The 10-foot increase caught the eye of city officials in all the riverside communities, but the National Weather Service still projects a crest of 4.3 feet above flood stage by early Thursday.

The long-term outlook bears watching because the river is not projected to slip below flood stage for another week as there’s more rain on the way. Sunday is forecast to bring a 55% chance of precipitation and Wednesday, April 10, brings a 35% chance.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like we have particularly heavy rain in the forecast,” said Scott Lincoln, senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Chicago. “We could get half an inch and that might slow down the fall, but it wouldn’t be enough to generate new flooding.”

Allen Park in Ottawa is closed Wednesday, April 3, 2024, because of the threat of flooding.