CHAMPAIGN — Drivers of oversized vehicles will have a new place to park for Saturday's football game between Illinois and Western Michigan.
With the remnants of Hurricane Isaac headed toward central Illinois this weekend, the university has made changes for fans with oversized vehicles who have passes for grass lots.
"If there is a heavy rain, we don't want big vehicles in the grass lots," said Kent Brown, Illinois sports information director. "We don't want any of those big vehicles to get stuck and try to drag them out."
Fans with oversized vehicles who have passes for grass lots will be moved to paved lots for Saturday's game.
Drivers of RVs, motor homes or oversized vehicles will be directed to park in Lot 33, a hard-surface lot that borders St. Mary's Road between First Street and Oak Street.
Brown said that I Fund parking passes will be honored in Lot 33.
Motorists with pull-behind trailers who usually park in Lot 42 at the southeast corner of Kirby Avenue and Fourth Street will be directed to park in the north half of Lot 45, next to Eichelberger Field, or in Lot 48, at the corner of St. Mary's Road and Wright Street.
"The parking passes will be honored at the new locations," Brown said.
Brown said there were no other changes for parking as of Friday evening.
"We reserve the right, if we get heavy rains, to close some of the grass lots on Saturday and move people to other lots," Brown said.
A decision will be made early Saturday morning about Street Fest and Illini Walk, with details to be provided at http://www.fightingillini.com/
Champaign-Urbana could feel the effects of Isaac throughout the weekend, including on Labor Day, according to Illinois State Climatologist Jim Angel.
Angel said the former hurricane had deteriorated into a tropical depression by Friday, but the storm is still expected to deluge our area this weekend.
The National Weather Service predicted on Friday that as much as 7 inches of rain is possible for an area that includes central Illinois.
"They call it tropical because it comes from the tropics," Angel said. "They call it a depression because it involves a low pressure area that allows the rain to fall."
Angel said the storm had formed a wide band extending from Kansas to the west through the entire state of Missouri and into western Illinois to the east by Friday evening.
He said the National Weather Service showed the center of the storm reaching St. Louis by Saturday morning and moving very slowly (about 5 mph) to the east.
"This is a big, swirling, slow-moving mass. The weather service is talking about steady rainfall on Saturday and Sunday," Angel said. "The heart of the rain will be coming down pretty good all day on Saturday, Saturday night and Sunday.
"It will likely rain all day long. You could get some periods where it lets off and it picks back up."
Angel said winds are expected to reach 6 to 10 mph on Saturday, with occasional gusts of up to 18 mph.
"It will definitely be breezy," he said.
Angel said on Friday evening that it was too soon to say when the rain might taper off.
Angel said the storm is reminiscent of the storms Champaign-Urbana typically gets in October and November.
"But, instead of originating from Colorado, this storm comes from the tropics and is a lot warmer than what we get in October and November."
Meanwhile, the Champaign public works department plans to have staff members report for work at 9 a.m. Saturday and then work around the clock as needed to address any possible problems from the storm.
Staff members spent Friday loading trucks with portable barricades, lights, rain gear and tools that could be used to help address flooding or clear clogged inlets, according to Kris Koester, Champaign public works administrative services supervisor.
Koester said people can call 403-4700 to report flooding in Champaign.