Thunderstorms moving across the Toledo area today have derailed a train in Williams County, flipped tractor-trailers on I-75 in Wood County, felled trees and knocked out power to thousands across northwest Ohio.
In Seneca County, more than 1,200 customers who are served by Ohio Edison have reported power outages, according to a company spokesman. He did not know when power would be restored to customers.
Seneca County is under a level 3 emergency after the storm caused downed power lines, trees and high water in the county.
Seneca County Emergency Management Agency officials advised that “non-emergency personnel are prohibited from driving upon public roadways until further notice,” and that emergency and public safety volunteers and personnel would be responding to help.
High winds that caused trees to fall on power lines resulted in power losses in six of the 10 counties that the Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative serves, the company said in a statement. Hancock County was one of the hardest hit areas, with about 1,700 customers out of power as of early this evening, according to a statement by the cooperative.
About 1,096 customers are also without power in Wood County. Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative reports that crews plan to work through the night to repair damages and restore power to area homes.
Other areas served by the cooperative experiencing outages includes Hardin County with 36 customers; Henry County with six; Putnam County with 62 and Sandusky County with 357.
American Electric Power spokesman Vikki Michalski said about 6,200 customers in the Findlay service area were left without power.
She said repair crews would not be able to start repairing the damage until after storms have left the area.
“The storms are still moving through the state and we can't go out,” Ms. Michalski said, citing a threat of lightning strikes.
She did not know when power might be restored as of this evening, but she said customers should be aware of downed power lines, avoid them and report the hazards to the electric company by using the online system at www.aepohio.com.
A succession of tornado warnings was issued starting around 2:20 p.m. for a broad swath of northwest and north-central Ohio for storms that were described as "severe" and "capable of producing" tornadoes, but no confirmed reports were immediately available.
Some of the heaviest storm damage, be it from tornadoes or straight-line winds, seemed to have occurred in Sandusky County. A Fremont police dispatcher said there was "a lot of damage" in the city, and the Ohio Department of Transportation's road-closing report in that county was extensive.
The last tornado warning in the northwest Ohio area, for Erie and Huron counties, expired at 4 p.m. as the storms advanced east.
Flash-flood warnings were posted across the area in the wake of the heavy rain. Those warnings were in effect until 6 p.m. in Lucas and Wood counties; until 8 p.m. in Erie, Huron, Seneca, and Sandusky counties, and until midnight in Wyandot County.
A flood warning also was issued in Hancock County until 8:45 p.m. for small streams and urban areas. Flood warnings previously issued for the Blanchard River in Findlay, as well as the Portage and Huron rivers, remained in effect, and the heavy rain was likely to cause those rivers to rise higher than previously forecast.
A severe thunderstorm watch, which had been in effect for all of northwestern Ohio and neighboring Michigan, has expired, according to the National Weather Service.
One of the train cars which derailed near Bryan, Ohio.
A Norfolk Southern intermodal train, hauling freight containers, trailers, or both, derailed between Bryan and Edgerton, Ohio, during the storm, and the Williams County Sheriff's office said it was believed to be weather related.
The accident on the Toledo-Chicago main line between Williams County roads 8 and 9 was reported at 2:26 p.m. No one was injured. By 3:20 p.m. all police, fire, and rescue personnel had cleared the scene, leaving the scene under Norfolk Southern's charge, the county dispatcher said.
Dave Pidgeon, a Norfolk Southern spokesman, said 10 railcars carrying a total of 18 containers on a train headed from Harrisburg, Pa., to St. Louis jumped the tracks, blocking the railroad's Toledo-Chicago main line indefinitely. Cleanup crews were en route to the scene by 4:30 p.m., and the cause officially remained under investigation, he said.
Multiple tractor trailers overturned along I-75 just south of Bowling Green, believed to be from high winds. One motorist reported six trucks overturned in between the northbound and southbound lanes of I-75 south of Bowling Green.
The Ohio Department of Transportation reported that State Rt. 25 was closed south of Bowling Green because of downed wires.
The Sandusky County ODOT closings included State Rt. 105 southeast of Woodville, U.S. 6 between U.S. 23 and State Rt. 53, Route 53 near the Ohio Turnpike, and State Rt. 19 near County Road 213.
As of 2:30 p.m., Toledo Edison reported several power outages in the Toledo area. More than 100 customers were out of power near Durbin Road, near Sylvania. The power is estimated to be returned to homes in that area by 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Outages have also been reported on Worthington Street, near Front Street downtown. The power in that area is expected to be back on around 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to Toledo Edison.
In Perrysburg, some residents were without power after an electrical power line came down on East Boundary Street between 2nd Street and State Rt. 795. As a result, the street was closed in that stretch.
Toledo Edison crews were out on Centennial Road between Central and Sylvania avenues repairing an electrical pole they believe was struck by lightening at 2 p.m. No power outages were reported as a result.
A Bowling Green police dispatcher said several streets were blocked by fallen tree limbs and power lines.
"We have lines and branches down throughout the city," a dispatcher said. "We have a couple of officers who are blocking [the roads] until we can get out there, but they aren't formally closed."
Other areas that are experiencing outages include homes on Whiteford Center, West Laskey, and Secor roads.
Meanwhile, Toledo Zoo patrons who were outside today were escorted to the nearest building at about 2:45 p.m. because of the storm. Some patrons were also escorted to the museum basement, in an area of the zoo called Nature's Neighborhood.
Zoo Spokesman Andi Norman said zoo staff members communicated by two-way radio during the height of the storm and made sure that patrons were safe.
Once guests were enclosed in safe areas, Ms. Norman said the zoo's educational team brought out books and games to keep children occupied.
"The kids seemed great," Ms. Norman said. "They were having a blast with the games, the puzzles, and the books."
After about 30 minutes of being in the basement, Ms. Norman said patrons were cleared to go back outside.
The Toledo Museum of Art also had to move guests from its second floor.
"We have safety areas within the museum and our visitors were asked to go on the lower levels in the safety hallways, where there are no windows," spokesman Teri Sharp said.
Ms. Sharp said patrons had to stay in the hallways for about 30 minutes and they were alerted by a speaker system, to move to the safe areas.
"We stayed in a hallway until the all-clear signal came through," she said.