The much-feared derecho turned out to be more of a derech- no.
Still, a parade of strong storms yesterday evening and early today sent central Ohioans scurrying to their basements amid tornado warnings and left more than 30,000 utility customers without electricity.
The storms dumped heavy rain — up to 4 inches fell in Marion and Morrow counties — and packed high winds that destroyed a few buildings while vivid lightning and accompanying thunder jolted the sleeping from bed.
After midnight, the Storm Prediction Center was warning a possible derecho could strafe central Ohio in a repeat of the windstorm that left more than 300,000 in the Columbus area without power nearly a year ago.
Compared to last year’s hurricane-force winds, the near-50 mph wind gusts measured across the Columbus area were but a breeze.
But, the squall line of storms that thundered through central Ohio about 1 a.m. still downed trees and power lines, darkening some traffic signals, and temporarily flooding streets.
Nearly 19,000 customers were without electricity after the storms in Franklin County, with outages reported on the North West Side, Upper Arlington and south of the Ohio State University campus. Repair crews tackled the outages, which dwindled to 4,000 by 12:30 p.m., about 0.8 percent of customers.
American Electric Power expects to finish storm cleanup today, much sooner than the days or weeks of work that would have followed a more-severe storm.
“We feel we’ll very fortunate that Mother Nature did not dump her full wrath upon us,” said AEP Ohio spokeswoman Vikki Michalski.
The Columbus-based utility had contracted with 450 extra personnel to help with storm recovery. Since the storm turned out to be minor, the company will let those workers go to other utility territories or send them home, Michalski said. Those decisions are being made this morning.
While there was little damage, there are still some power outages and downed wires. AEP is advising customers to look out for signs of danger, and not to approach downed wires.
Showers and thunderstorms might continue into early afternoon in the Columbus area, but are not expected to be severe.
The worst of the overnight damage, and flooding, came north and west of Columbus.
In Marion County, a barn roof blew off and crashed into a house on Rt. 309 outside of LaRue, slightly injuring two people, a Marion County sheriff’s dispatcher said. A vacant brick building in Caledonia also collapsed.
In Auglaize County, buildings were destroyed and trees toppled by high winds near the Neil Armstrong Airport. No injuries were reported.
Morrow County officials reported a possible tornado yesterday evening. Joe Edwards, Morrow County Emergency Management Agency director, said there were suspected touchdowns along Rt. 42 and Rts. 21 and 24, north of Ashley. READ MORE