WEATHER

Relentless rain throws a wet blanket on fun

Dodging deluges part of routine in area

7/9/2013
BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
More than a dozen Bowling Green Department of Public Utilities electric poles were topped by a Sunday storm, leaving power out along Dunbridge Road in Bowling Green. Electric service was expected to be restored today.
More than a dozen Bowling Green Department of Public Utilities electric poles were topped by a Sunday storm, leaving power out along Dunbridge Road in Bowling Green. Electric service was expected to be restored today.

Danielle Dawson and her children had one constant companion during their summer getaway: rain clouds.

The family went to the zoo: It rained. At a park: It rained. At the beach Monday afternoon: Yup, it rained.

She’s been in northwest Ohio since Friday, traveling from Chillicothe, Ill., to visit her father in Oregon. It’s been one wet welcome.

“We played in the rain as much as we could,” Ms. Dawson said, as she made her way through puddles back to a parked car at Maumee Bay State Park. “I’m so waterlogged.”

And for Toledo residents, the tropical weather during the Fourth of July weekend was just the continuation of a wet pattern that began last month, the fourth-wettest June since Toledo Express Airport opened in 1955.

So much for supposedly sunny summer.

It’s soggy, sticky, and rain has fallen in the region regularly, including the short deluge Monday that soaked some swimmers at the state park and booted bathers from the water amid lightning worries.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, just half an inch had fallen at the airport during July, but Sarah Jamison, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland, said localized downpours have brought much heavier rain southeast of Toledo, including heavy rain along the Portage River, where about 3 inches has fallen in July.

“We’ve been getting the kind of moisture that they usually get in the Gulf states,” she said.

On the east side of Bowling Green, two businesses and a home remained without power Monday and a major intersection was closed after a thunderstorm Sunday night knocked over numerous utility poles.

Toledo Edison employees were assisting city crews to restore power, utility spokesman Meg Adams said.

The affected customers of Bowling Green’s municipal power company were expected to have their lights back on sometime today.

More thunderstorms moving into the area Monday evening prompted the National Weather Service to post a flash-flood watch for 21 northern and central Ohio counties, including Lucas, Ottawa, and Erie counties and other counties south to the Columbus area.

The 6.35 inches that fell last month at the airport was 2.13 inches less than the record from 1981, but it was 2.78 inches more than normal for June.

But the gray-sky dome clouding Toledo is expected to lift when drier air moves in Thursday, bringing with it a drop in humidity.

Toledoans Rudy Handy, 5, and his uncle Gil Gomez took advantage of a break in the rain to finally get an opportunity to fish at the Toledo Skyway Marina.
Toledoans Rudy Handy, 5, and his uncle Gil Gomez took advantage of a break in the rain to finally get an opportunity to fish at the Toledo Skyway Marina.

The weather service predicted a high temperature here around 80 degrees with mostly sunny skies.

Until then, there’s at least a 50 percent chance of rain through Wednesday, Ms. Jamison said.

Amy White of Toledo hurried to the Maumee Bay park Monday with her daughter, Jaylen White, and Jaylen’s cousin, Alecia White, hoping to beat the rain. But a flash of lightning stopped them and stranded them in a bathroom.

While the rain soon stopped, beach-goers were warned away from the water because of the lightning threat. The trio considered waiting it out in a parking lot, but then they dashed to their car when the skies burst open again.

“I’m a huge swimming and beach person, so it’s raining and not making me happy,” Jaylen White said.

Her cousin hasn’t been swimming all summer. The worst part? It’s hot and humid, “but you can’t do anything about it,” Amy White said.

Across the spongy, squishy grass, Tim Ciboro of Toledo walked with his Yorkshire terrier. The wet weather hasn’t dampened his outdoor activities, though he avoided slippery, muddy paths on his running route.

“We don’t let the rain or anything stop us,” he said.

Others too tried to squeeze in some fun while dodging downpours. Gil Gomez of Toledo and his nephew dug out fishing poles and set up chairs along the Maumee River at Toledo Skyway Marina as dark clouds gathered in the distance. He had promised to take his nephew fishing the last couple of days and wanted to make it work even though it has not been a normal summer.

For Ottawa Hills resident Michael Harding, the lightning threat came very close to home when a neighbor’s tree was hit, sending wood and bark flying onto his property.

“It exploded with enough force to throw chunks of wood into my backyard and across my front yard and some on my roof, and I have a two-story house,” Mr. Harding said.

The 4 p.m. incident was especially memorable because Mr. Harding’s son, in the car with him, had just asked if he had ever been close to a lightning strike.

“I said no, I’d never been anywhere near one. Then sure enough, we pulled into our garage. The garage door was still up. As we were looking out at the rain pouring down, we heard one of the loudest booms or explosions I’d heard in a long time,” he said.

The recent unpleasant weather has made for fewer visits to Toledo’s pools. On July 4, 174 people went to the city’s pools, compared to 360 on the 2012 holiday. Lightning sightings caused some pools to close early a couple of days as well, a city spokesman said.

In Bowling Green, summer programs mostly take place in sites with a nearby indoor location in case of rain, though a skateboarding camp was shut down early Monday, and the young skateboarders scurried for shelter when it began to pour, said Kristin Otley, the city’s recreation coordinator.

“The first couple weeks of June were great, and it’s just been kind of miserable since then,” she said.

Blade staff writer Kelly McLendon contributed to this report.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6056, or on Twitter @vanmccray.