Diane Brent, from Toledo, avoids the snow covered sidewalks and walks to the store on Cherry Street near Rockingham during a rainy afternoon today. Brent said that she had to brave the elements to buy lunch for her mother . "It's just terrible out, just terrible," said Brent.
Nearly an inch and a half of rain from mid-morning to midday today left standing water on many Toledo streets and caused flooding in some buildings.
The heavy rain fell during rare February thunderstorms as a warm front pushed northwest through northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan during the morning. It started in Toledo as a brief period of sleet, and some parts of Michigan received brief snowfall before the precipitation there also changed to rain.
The combination of heavy rain, melting snow, and ice and slush clogging drains caused widespread street flooding.
River flooding also was a prospect to Toledo's south, although morning rainfall in the flood-prone Blanchard River basin near Findlay was significantly lower than the 1.42 inches that fell at Toledo Express Airport near Swanton and the 1.10 inches at Toledo Executive Airport in Lake Township.
The National Weather Service in Cleveland issued flood warnings for both the Blanchard and the Huron River, with the agency predicting moderate flooding in both Findlay and Milan. Although both rivers were about 10 feet below flood stage as of late morning, the rain and heavy runoff are expected to push them over their banks by Friday morning.
Flood durations will depend on whether the rivers' rise also causes their surface ice to break up and then jam at bends, narrow spots, or bridges.
Among the flooded buildings was St. Ursula Academy in West Toledo, where water accumulated in hallways. I-475 was flooded in West Toledo and Sylvania Township, with the Ohio Department of Transportation closing the Douglas Road entrance to the eastbound side so ice-clogged storm drains could be cleared, while the westbound lanes had high water near Corey Road.
The National Weather Service office in North Webster, Ind., issued a flood warning for small streams and urban areas for a broad area of northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio, the latter including Fulton, Henry, Williams, and Defiance counties. That office said between half an inch and 1-1/4 inches of rain had fallen across the warned area, with another quarter-inch likely.
Other rainfalls from the early rain around the region included 1.04 inches in Defiance, 0.83 inch in Adrian, 0.59 inch in Fort Wayne, Ind., 0.3 inch in Findlay, and 0.27 inch in Lima, Ohio.
A flood advisory for Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa counties is scheduled to expire at 6:30 p.m. today, but more rain was possible at night as the storm's cold front passed through the region.
The heavy rain is expected to be followed by strong winds late today and Friday as the storm's cold front passes.
The Cleveland and North Webster offices have issued wind advisories effective this evening and continuing until Friday evening for northeast Indiana and northern Ohio predicting sustained winds of 20 mph to 35 mph and gusts to 45 mph. In southeast Michigan, a similar advisory will be in effect from midnight until 7 p.m. Friday.