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Published: Wednesday, 10/27/2010

Rare event in weather rolls through Toledo area

BY BRIDGET THARP
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Eddye Vega fights wind on Summit Street in downtown Toledo. Damage in the region yesterday was scattered, including a tornado in Van Wert, Ohio. Eddye Vega fights wind on Summit Street in downtown Toledo. Damage in the region yesterday was scattered, including a tornado in Van Wert, Ohio.
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Meteorologists are predicting high winds Wednesday that will mirror those of Tuesday when a mild tornado touched down in Van Wert County and winds gusting to 70 mph caused scattered damage across the region.

The storm swept an area from the Dakotas to the eastern Great Lakes. Severe thunderstorm warnings blanketed much of the Midwest, and tornado watches were issued from Arkansas to Ohio. Flights were delayed at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, a major hub for American and United airlines.

The storm system that continues to sweep eastward across the Midwest caused three tornadoes in Indiana Tuesday and has been compared to a hurricane. The storm system carries a lower, more intense pressure than some hurricanes - "the most intense I've seen," said Sam Lashley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in northern Indiana.

Meteorologist Amy Seeley said the storm was among the worst in decades based on the pressure level at its center, which was similar to a Category 3 hurricane. Aside from the pressure-level similarity, the storm system's effects were unlike a hurricane's. Its sustained winds were between 20 and 30 mph, and its 70-mph gusts were comparable to a tropical storm; Category 3 hurricanes have winds up to 130 mph.

But the storm was considered a rare meteorological event.

"This isn't something you see even every year," said Edward Fenelon, a weather service meteorologist in Romeoville, Ill.

Predicted sunny skies Wednesday will warm ground-level air, causing it to rise and forcing down fast-moving jet stream air. The jet stream high in the atmosphere will continue to be over 200 mph today, at least 50 miles faster than normal, Mr. Lashley said.

A tornado with winds less than 73 mph ripped a path of about 3.5 miles in Van Wert about 11 a.m. Tuesday, overturning a tractor-trailer, ripping the roof off a barn, flattening a cornfield, and carrying a windmill 40 yards, the weather service said.

Mike Kurfess of Bowling Green's wastewater collection unit opens a drain on West Wooster Street after the storm passed. Meteorologists said it was notable for the low pressure at its center. Mike Kurfess of Bowling Green's wastewater collection unit opens a drain on West Wooster Street after the storm passed. Meteorologists said it was notable for the low pressure at its center.
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The storm destroyed barns in Putnam County's Continental about 11:30 a.m., downed utility poles in Defiance and Fulton counties about 11:45 a.m., and uprooted trees in Lima, Ohio, by noon.

High winds damaged about 25 homes in Cridersville, just south of Lima. Officials said several of the houses were total losses.

Winds reached 70 mph in Findlay and 55 mph in Holland at 12:30 p.m. The storm caused power outages for at least 5,500 households in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

It could have been worse, said Toledo Edison spokesman Reggie Strauss. "Any of the damage we thought we were going to get, we pretty well dodged a bullet. Pretty lucky, pretty fortunate," Mr. Strauss said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Contact Bridget Tharp at:

btharp@theblade.com

or 419-724-6086.



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