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Picnic-perfect weather on tap in Sauk Valley

Some rec areas still recovering from storms

It’s been cloudy, soggy, and kind of thunder-boomy lately, but for the next couple of days, at least, the only booms you should be hearing will be accompanied by falling sparkles, not lightning bolts.

Today will be sunny, with highs in the mid 70s, lows in the low 50s, and northwest winds 5 to 10 mph, the National Weather Service says.

The Fourth of July will see more of the same picnic-perfect weather, with the breeze shifting to the south, and the day and nighttime temps creeping up just a few degrees. Skies should present a crisp, clear palette for all the fireworks shows.

Then it’s back to business as usual. There’s a 40 percent chance of rain Saturday night, with highs in the upper 70s and lows in the mid 60s. Sunday, temps climb to the low 80s, but the chance of rain drops to 30 percent.

A few other weather-related items are worthy of note for the holiday:

In the wake of several storm systems that have trekked through the region this week, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has closed a few recreational areas.

Crews are working hard clean up fallen trees and restore power to get parks, campgrounds and trails open for this weekend, the IDNR said in a news release.

As of Wednesday:

Prophetstown State Park was closed because of flooding.

White Pines State Park in Mount Morris still had no power. But a generator is on site, and the park is open.

At Franklin Creek State Natural Area in Franklin Grove, equestrian trails were closed, but hiking trails were open.

At Starved Rock State Park in Utica, trails remained closed for health and safety reasons, while trees and debris were being removed.

The Kankakee River was reopened to recreational boating Wednesday, the release said.

Go to for current information on all IDNR sites.

Holiday revelers should take note: In addition to the usual increase in State Police and other law enforcement road patrols, the Illinois Conservation Police will be out in full force this weekend, concentrating on waterways and state parks, the IDNR said.

Officers will be on the lookout for motorists and boaters operating under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Although Monday’s storms dumped a fair amount of rain on the Sauk Valley, no closures or restrictions have been imposed on the Rock River in Lee, Ogle or Whiteside counties.

Still, Lee County Sheriff John Varga urged folks to use common sense.

“Pay attention on the river,” Varga said. “With floating debris and swift currents, it can be hazardous, so slow down and pay attention.”

Among the hardest-hit areas Monday was the Carroll County village of Thomson, where a tornado producing winds around 100 mph touched down shortly after midnight.

No injuries or fatalities were reported, and damage to the town was “minimal,” village officials said, since the tornado’s path steered north into county portions. The National Weather Service characterized the twister as weak.

“Most of it missed the center of town,” said Jeff Ashby, Thomson public works director.

Thomson’s wastewater treatment plant did sustain some damage, Ashby said, but that, too, was minimal.

The tornado was recorded at 12:30 a.m. and ended 3 minutes later. It carved a 2-mile path through Carroll County at a 0.375-mile width.

The Oregon area, too, sustained a fair amount of damage Monday, with 4,000 ComEd customers without power at one point Tuesday, and trees felled all over Ogle County.

According to ComEd’s outage map, only about 37 Oregon customers still were without power around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

In Lee County, about 130 people in Amboy still were without electricity, though, and crews also were working to restore power to about 50 people in the Prophetstown area, in Whiteside County.

McClatchy News Service contributed to this story.

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