A small tornado touched down briefly near the Midway Mall in Elyria, ripping siding from an office supply store, flattening residential garages and forcing some schools to close today because of a power outage.
No injuries were reported from the tornado that hit across the street from the Elyria Township Fire Department about 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Lt. Noel Vargo said. The fire department is just west of Midway Mall.
It’s been a wild weather turn of events in our area.
The high temperature in Norwalk Wednesday was 76 and the low today is 29. Area residents went to bed Wednesday night during a thunder storm and woke up today facing snow and ice.
Two area schools — Berlin-Milan and New London — were on a two-hour delay today, while Plymouth-Shiloh schools were closed.
Today’s storm prompted forecasters to issue flood warnings for much of the state. Authorities closed roads in areas from Auglaize County in western Ohio to Belmont County in eastern Ohio because of high water, sheriff’s offices said.
Huron County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator Bill Ommert said today there were no reports of tornado touchdowns in this county.
“This is typical March,” Ommert said. “You get all four seasons in one month and sometimes in one day. Last night we had severe weather and then look at the weirdness of this morning. We have a winter weather watch and flood warning at the same time.”
Ommert said the county rivers were again rising. “Again, please do not drive through high water. A prime example of this is Fitchville-River Road in the part where it’s gone from the flood a week ago.”
Ommert added there were no weather-related injury reports.
In preparation for spring, the county will participate in a statewide tornado drill at 9:50 a.m. March 28.
The rain changed to freezing rain and sleet in Union County, northwest of Columbus, possibly contributing to numerous accidents, some involving injuries, a sheriff’s dispatcher said.
The tornado that hit northeast Ohio was weak and on the ground only a few minutes in Elyria Township, said Jim Kosarik, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
Investigators will have to assess the damage to determine wind speed, said NWS meteorologist Mike Abair.
Hayward Evans, manager of the Staples store at the mall, said winds tore a 30- to 40-foot section of siding from the rear of the building.
Rain poured through the damaged roof of Pandy’s Garden Center, forcing about a dozen workers to try to find shelter for delicate plants.
“We have to get the plants from places where there is no ceiling to a place where there is a ceiling,” owner Stephen Pandy said.
Strong winds also downed power lines and trees, and tossed a shopping cart through the window of an empty building, said Lt. Bob Krugman of the Elyria Fire Department.
“We heard this wind and the lights went out,” said David Greer, owner of Herb’s Happy Hour Bar, which sustained wind damage. “We ran to the back of the bar, looked out the window and saw our boat in the back yard up in the air spinning around.”
Elyria school leaders canceled Thursday classes because FirstEnergy Corp. could not say when electricity would be restored to the district’s main building, school board member Kathryn Carpus said.
Wayne Eppley, township fire chief, said the storm struck as firefighters were conducting first aid training.
“We heard noise and looked up and saw circulating winds full of debris, pieces of wood, roofs and tree limbs going right over our heads,” he said.