'Like ... a jet engine pounding on our roof': Hail contributes to third-wettest May on record
Water rushed in through a window well, hail pelted cars and ripped apart screens, and winds howled so loudly members of the Sumeraj family thought the top half of their house might blow away.
The longtime residents of south Naperville emerged from their home's lowest level Monday afternoon with damage to four cars, an outdoor pool, every west-facing screen, the roof and the basement, leaving their two-story structure battered but intact.
"Without a doubt, this is the worst storm we've ever gone through," Stephen Sumeraj said Tuesday. "The winds were bringing the hail sideways. It literally sounded like there was a jet engine pounding on our roof, it was so loud."
Parts of Naperville reported as much as 2.4 inches of rain Monday, toward the end of an already soaked month when the region's official reporting station at O'Hare International Airport has seen the third-highest rainfall total for May since records have been kept.
According to the National Weather Service, 7.33 inches of rain have fallen this month at O'Hare, including 1.92 inches since 10 a.m. Saturday.
The month-to-date total is not far behind the second-wettest May on record in 1945 when 7.59 inches fell, or the May rainfall record set last year, when the total increased to 8.21 inches, according to weather service data.
While the storm that ripped through Naperville about 2 p.m. seems among the strongest that hit the region Monday, heavy rains also fell on Memorial Day barbecues elsewhere. Especially in Lake, Will, DuPage and Kane counties, rivers rose, trees toppled and streets flooded.
And with more rain expected Wednesday and Thursday mornings, National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley said the current total is a moot point.
The rains already have forced the cancellation of what would have been the 58th annual Mid-American Canoe & Kayak Race, scheduled for June 2 in Aurora.
The Fox Valley Park District allows the race to go on if river flow is less than 2,100 cubic feet per second. On Monday, flow was reported at 4,100 cubic feet per second upriver at the South Elgin dam. On Tuesday, downriver in Montgomery, flow was reported at 5,500 cubic feet per second.
Officials also based their cancellation decision on a river flood warning that remains in effect until Monday.
Farther north, the Fox River and Chain 'O Lakes also reported high-standing and fast-moving water.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources forecasts the river to crest Wednesday or Thursday about 1 inch above flood stage in Algonquin. The National Weather Service predicts water levels will begin to drop Friday.
And for the second time this month, Fox Lake is overflowing its banks onto lawns in low-lying areas, many of which also flooded May 13. The Fox Waterway Agency has placed no-wake restrictions on the entire Chain O' Lakes and Fox River, requiring boaters to travel slowly.
In DuPage County, spokeswoman Joan Olson said officials received a report of a partial warehouse roof collapse in Woodridge, due to the weight of water.
In Naperville, the West Branch of the DuPage River overran some sidewalks and stairways along the city's downtown Riverwalk. Spokeswoman Linda LaCloche said the city received 165 calls about storm-related issues, including 18 reports of damaged or downed limbs and eight reports of fallen trees on city property.
Some flooded streets were closed as long as six hours, LaCloche said, despite the work of 334 people who have signed up to clear 481 storm drains -- and likely the help of others not in the adopt-a-drain program. To help residents remove downed leaves, the city and its waste hauler, Groot, are offering a free pickup of bagged leaves beginning at 6 a.m. Saturday for residents south of 95th Street.
Leaves coated the ground Monday afternoon at the Sumeraj family's house near Book Road and 103rd Street, as well as at Holly Paddock's sister's house, also near Book and 103rd, where family gathered for a graduation party as the hail set in.
"It was a couple hours before it all melted in the yard," Paddock said about the hail that fell for roughly 20 minutes. "And it made walking outside chilly because you were literally walking in ice water."
The hail was so loud at Sumeraj's house, he said he could hardly hear his wife and kids speak.
"The sound of this hail hitting our house," he said, "I can't even describe."
• Daily Herald staff writers Susan Sarkauskas and Lee Filas contributed to this report.