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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

Storm hits region like sledgehammer

Funnel clouds were spotted in northern Seneca County and southern Huron County, where in the Willard and Greenwich areas five inches of rain fell in 30 minutes, beginning after 4:30 p.m., authorities said.

Underpasses in the cities flooded seven-feet deep, and more than 20,000 people in Huron County were without power at one time, said Bill Ommert, county emergency management director.

“It's just terrible,” Mr. Ommert said. “It's just another one of Mother Nature's bad little jokes on us.”

Roofing materials from Bowling Green State University's TEchnology Annex litter the ground and adjacent trees. Roofing materials from Bowling Green State University's TEchnology Annex litter the ground and adjacent trees.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

The National Weather Service measured 0.3 inch of rain from midnight to 8 p.m. at Toledo Express Airport.

The afternoon storm moved from northwest to southeast across Wood County between 4 and 5 p.m., with trees uprooted and homes damaged in the Williamsburg-on-the-River section in Washington Township.

As it hit Bowling Green, the storm took down trees and power lines. Winds were clocked at more than 100 mph at Wood County Airport on Poe Road, said Eric Larson, county emergency management director.

The damage followed by about 12 hours another in a series of recent damaging storms that have raked northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. The earlier storm began about 3 a.m. with 45 mph wind gusts, which downed tree limbs and cut power to about 12,000 electric customers in the Toledo area.

The cycle of storms has been caused by a cold front over the Great Lakes meeting warm, humid air moving north. The cycle should break tomorrow or Friday, when a another front arrives, said Paul Pastelok, a senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, Inc., a private forecasting service in State College, Pa.

A motorist navigates around wires and trees on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green. A motorist navigates around wires and trees on East Wooster Street in Bowling Green.
ALLAN DETRICH Enlarge

BGSU grounds crews and maintenance workers were kept late or called in early to help start cleanup. Trees and broken limbs could be found scattered throughout the 5-million-square-foot campus. Crews and outside contractors concentrated on the several buildings that the ferocious storm tore up.

The worst damage was at the Technology Annex on Poe Road at the airport, said Teri Sharp, a BGSU spokesman. Wind blew the roof from the annex and damaged airplanes. The annex, used to train BGSU aeronautics students, also contains flight-simulation equipment. Crews worked into the evening to replace the roof, she said.

The early morning storms caused power outages across the region. About 500 households scattered across Monroe, Lenawee, and Hillsdale counties lost power. Consumers Energy was able to restore power by midday, but the afternoon thunderstorm produced additional outages, spokesman Kevin Keane said.

Crews are working to restore power to the largest outage areas first, but fallen trees have to be removed before repairs happen, Toledo Edison spokesman Gary Mortus said. “It could be several days before we have everyone restored,” he said.

Lightning crackles through the darkened afternoon sky at Fallen Timber and Russell roads in Monclova Township. Lightning crackles through the darkened afternoon sky at Fallen Timber and Russell roads in Monclova Township.
LISA DUTTON / BLADE Enlarge

By early evening, more than 9,000 Toledo Edison customers were without power, but most should have their electricity restored today, Mr. Mortus said.

Last night at the BGSU Field House, the wind seemed to have sucked out part of the building's west wall. Ground crews inspected the campus within the first hour after the storm, said Bryan Benner, associate vice president for administration, who was at the Field House - not to be confused with Anderson Arena - to assess the damage.

Crews found quite a bit of damage as they surveyed the campus. Wind and rain tore sections of the roof from Kobacker Hall and the Moore Musical Arts Center, significantly damaged hangars at the airport, and ripped the top off the press box at the university's track.

“The great news is that nobody got hurt,” Mr. Benner said. The university is in summer session, but plenty of people were on campus, including the incoming class of students attending orientation and registration and others who were at sports camps.

Inside the Moore Musical Arts Center, water cascaded from the roof that had been pulled away from the structure. Puddles collected on the carpet and water soaked the wooden walls and fabric of the 850-seat Kobacker Hall.

University officials expect to have a preliminary damage estimate by late afternoon today, Ms. Sharp said. Classes will continue, including aeronautics classes, which will meet in another building until the annex is repaired.

Blade staff writers Kim Bates, Erica Blake, Christina Hall, Karin Kowalski, Mike Sigov, and Mark Zaborney contributed to this report.


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