BELLEVUE, Ohio — Two weak tornadoes — one that charted a short path across this city, the other skipping along a 10-mile path in rural Seneca and Huron counties south of here — were confirmed Thursday by the National Weather Service as part of strong thunderstorms that barreled through northwest Ohio on Wednesday afternoon.
Investigators from the weather service office in Cleveland also identified “downburst” winds in Bellevue, where extensive tree and power line damage occurred, while straight-line winds caused widespread crop damage in nearby rural areas.
The Bellevue tornado, given the lowest EF0 classification on the Enhanced Fujita scale with estimated top winds of 75 mph, first touched down along Flat Rock Road near Kilbourne Street and traveled east-northeast for just under a mile before lifting near Kilbourne and Gardner Street, the weather service said.
Most damage along the twister’s path — 50 yards across at its widest — was to roofs and treetops.
The slightly stronger tornado to the south formed in northeastern Seneca County’s Reed Township, near Township Road 122 and County Road 27, and continued “intermittently on the ground” toward the northeast for 10.1 miles into northwestern Huron County, lifting near the Bellevue Reservoir.
It mainly uprooted trees, but caused “significant damage” to some barns and houses, knocking one home’s attached garage off its foundation and collapsing a second-story wall on another house.
The weather service rated it EF1 with top wind of 90 mph and a maximum width of 50 yards.
“Nearly every street” in Bellevue had fallen trees and power lines, the weather service noted.
Ohio Edison spokesman Gary Mortis said Bellevue was one of the hardest-hit areas. In Huron County, about 2,400 customers remained without power late Thursday — about 2,191 of those customers are in the Bellevue area.
He said customers can expect power to be restored by late today.
Thousands were still without power in counties served by American Electric Power as of late Thursday, including more than 600 customers in Hancock County, about 2,760 in Seneca, and about 800 in Wood.
More than half of AEP’s customer base in Sandusky County — almost 7,200 customers — still lacked power late Thursday. Toledo Edison spokesman Meg Adams said a little over 2,500 of its customers there also still lacked power. Ms. Adams said most customers should have service by today.
With outages expected to persist into the weekend, the Red Cross of Northwest Ohio said it was opening a cooling station at McPherson Middle School in Clyde, Ohio, while the agency’s Firelands Chapter was setting one up at the Monroeville Community Center.
Although the persistent humid, rainy weather that characterized late June and July’s first 10 days in northwest Ohio was not in the forecast, meteorologists expect the low-80s conditions of Thursday and today to by replaced by a warming trend during the weekend. No significant rain was predicted through Monday.
The cooling stations are intended to provide cool shelter for those unable to use air conditioning or electric fans in their homes. Water will be offered and electricity access will be available for those who need power for medical devices.
The Red Cross in Hancock County is distributing cleanup kits to assist families affected by flooding. The kits, which can be used to disinfect flooded areas of homes, will be available from noon to 4 p.m. today at Red Cross offices in Findlay, Upper Sandusky, and Tiffin, as well as the Commercial Savings Bank in Carey.
Norfolk Southern restored train service early Thursday on its main line between Toledo and Chicago following a derailment Wednesday afternoon that local authorities said appeared to be wind-related. Ten railcars carrying 30 freight containers derailed near Melbern, a Williams County hamlet between Bryan and Edgerton, during the storms.
Cleanup continued at a second derailment site north of the Seneca County village of Attica, where 13 empty coal cars overturned.
Flood warnings remained in effect for several northwest Ohio rivers, with the most extensive inundation reported along the Sandusky River near Tiffin.
The National Weather Service said the river there was likely to crest 1.9 feet above its 9-foot flood stage Thursday evening, with moderate flooding.
Moderate flooding was reported on the Blanchard River in Findlay, which was 1.1 feet over its 11-foot flood stage Thursday. Flooding on the Portage River near Woodville was minor and that river was expected to retreat to its banks early today.
Bowling Green officials announced a special citywide pickup for storm-related tree debris, starting at 7 a.m. Monday.
Crews will make only one pass on each street, the city’s announcement said. Branches should be cut to no more than eight feet long and be loosely piled, not bundled. Officials urged neighbors to help each other cut branches to length and move debris to curbs.
Material left at curbside that does not appear to be storm-related may not be picked up, officials warned.
Staff writer Kelly McLendon contributed to this report.
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