Storms that require preparation DO occur in our area. Below is just a sampling of
significant storms over the past decade across northern Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania that were
life-threatening, caused prolonged power outages, evacuations, or destroyed homes. These
storms span all seasons, reminding you of the importance of severe weather preparation
Preparation begins with information including knowing the potential hazards for your
area and knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency. Having a plan ahead of time
and building a preparedness kit ready you for the most common disasters for your area. For
more preparedness information visit: Ready.gov
December 22-23, 2004: Heavy Snow, Freezing Rain, near Blizzard conditions
A record setting winter storm affected northern Ohio on December 22nd and 23rd of 2004.
Low pressure moved from Texas to the Ohio Valley spreading heavy snow across the
region. Nearly two feet or snow fell in some areas and new snowfall records were established
at several locations. Gusts to 30 mph caused significant blowing and drifting and near
blizzard conditions were reported in north central Ohio. Temperatures warmed slightly during
the early morning hours of the 23rd causing the snow to change to freezing rain. Ice
accumulations caused widespread power outages and tree damage along and south of the U.S. Highway 30
corridor. The combination of the freezing rain and the wet and very heavy snow made travel nearly
impossible across northern Ohio. Hundreds of accidents were reported and holiday travel for
many was not possible. It took several days for road crews to completely clean up after this
event. Damage and cleanup costs for this storm were historic with only the Blizzard of 1978
having more financial impact.
It took nearly a week for power to be fully restored
The weight of the heavy snow damaged the roofs of dozens of homes and buildings, several of
which had complete roof failures.
January 5-6, 2005: Freezing Rain
For the second time in just over two weeks, a devastating and historic winter storm affected
Northern Ohio on January 5th and 6th. Significant ice accumulations occurred over most of
the area downing thousands of trees, causing widespread power outages and making travel nearly
impossible. The hardest hit locations were west of Interstate 71 along the U.S. Route 30
corridor. Ice accumulations of greater than three quarters of an inch were reported from the Findlay
eastward to the Mansfield area. In cities like Mansfield, Bucyrus and Findlay, nearly every
property in some neighborhoods sustained tree damage. Ice build up at the Davis-Besse Nuclear
Power Plant (Ottawa County) damaged the facility enough to force it to be temporarily shut
down. Hundreds of crews were brought in from around the county to help restore the power
outages. In addition to damage caused by fallen trees and limbs, a lot of basement flooding occurred
as power outages prevented sump pumps from working. Clean up and repair costs for this storm were
among the highest ever recorded for a natural disaster in Ohio. In Richland County alone,
cleanup cost accrued by local governments totaled nearly $6 million.
It took nearly two weeks for power to be fully restored.
~ One million people lost power. Up to 80 percent of electric customers in a nine county
area lost service during the storm.
Several power companies reported the largest number of outages in their histories.
Hundreds if not thousands of homes and businesses were damaged by fallen trees, limbs and utility
July 28, 2006: Flash Flooding
Historic flooding occurred in Lake County after days of heavy rainfall. After a brief lull, heavy
thunderstorm rains resumed just after midnight on the 28th and a devastating flash flood
quickly developed. By daybreak on the 28th, as much of 10 inches of rain had fallen on
portions of Lake County. In Painesville, the Grand River rose from a stage of 2 feet on
the morning of the 27th to 17.36 feet around 5 a.m. on the 28th establishing a new record
stage. Damage along the river was catastrophic and homes along Main Street, Millstone
Drive, Gristmill Drive, Steele Avenue and Grand River Avenue were devastated. Approximately 25
people had to be rescued by boat from rooftops after flood waters climbed into the second floors of
their homes. Several other people had to be rescued by helicopter because the flood waters
were flowing too fast to allow boat rescues. Around 3,600 families in Lake County applied for
flood assistance. Damage in Lake County during this event was unprecedented. The flooding has
been classified as a 500 year event.
A total of 81 homes were destroyed with dozens more heavily damaged.
~ 600 people were evacuated from homes along the Grand River, ~1200 people were evacuated from a
Madison Twp. mobile home park.
Emergency personnel conducted 41 separate rescue operations involving around 200 people
Five bridges were destroyed by flooding and at least eight roads were washed out.
Approximately 100 homes were destroyed in the county with another 800 significantly damaged.
February 14, 2007: Heavy Snow
Low pressure moved from the Great Plains to the Ohio Valley
on February 13th and 14th. Moisture from the Gulf of Mexico
combined with arctic air to cause heavy snow over the Upper Ohio Valley. Between 12 and 18
inches of wet and very heavy snow fell across the local area. Cleveland had its third snowiest
24 hour period ever with 15.8 inches of snowfall. A peak total of 23.5 inches was measured at
nearby Pepper Pike. Winds gusted to as much as 40 mph during this event causing
extensive blowing and drifting. Hundreds of schools were closed and travel was nearly
impossible at times.
Many motorists became stranded on local highways and several major vehicle pileups occurred.
September 14, 2008: Remnants of Hurricane Ike
The remnants of Hurricane Ike moved from southeast Missouri at daybreak on September
14th to Northwest Ohio by late afternoon. Damaging winds of greater than 60 mph
accompanied this storm system and caused widespread damage across northern Ohio and northwestern
Pennsylvania. Damage and cleanup costs from this event approached $500 million in northern Ohio
alone. Reports of high winds and wind damage began during the middle part of the afternoon and
tapered off late in the evening. The damage across the area was extensive with thousands of trees,
power lines and utility poles downed. The time of year of this event contributed greatly to the
amount of damage that occurred since the trees in the area were still foliated. Utility crews
from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts were dispatched to the
region to help the restoration efforts. Hundreds of vehicles were damaged by fallen trees or
limbs. Crop losses from the high winds were also significant.
Thousands of homes and buildings sustained varying degrees of damage from the high winds.
Two deaths and several injuries occurred as a result of this storm.
As many as two million people in northern Ohio lost power as a result of this storm.
January 15-17, 2009: Cold Outbreak
A strong area of arctic high pressure moved from the Northern Plains on January 15th to the Upper
Ohio Valley by late in the day on January 16th. The high eventually shifted east of the area on the
17th. Very cold temperatures accompanied this high. The coldest temperatures since January 1994 were
recorded at most observing sites. Gusty southwest to west winds made it feel even colder with wind
chills colder than minus 25 reported from the evening of the 15th through the afternoon hours of the
16th. Winds eventually lessened early on the 17th which allowed temperatures to again plummet to 10
below or colder for the third morning in a row at many locations. Cooperative observers in Knox
County reported lows of -28 and -29 on the 17th. Most of the schools in northern Ohio and
northwestern Pennsylvania were closed on both the 15th and 16th.
Dangerously cold temperatures recorded
June 5-6, 2010: EF4 Tornado
A devastating tornado moved across portions of northern Wood County and western Ottawa County
during the late evening hours of June 5th. The tornado reached a peak intensity of EF4 and was
responsible for the deaths of seven people. The initial touchdown occurred east of Perrysburg near
the Ohio Turnpike. The tornado then moved east northeast for around 9 miles before lifting near Clay
Center. The tornado moved across the edge of Toledo Executive Airport and destroyed a Lake
Township administrative building and a high school. Several of the fatalities occurred
in this area. The tornado then crossed Interstate 280 and reached EF4 intensity as it
approached Main Street on the north side of Millbury. The tornado then moved into Ottawa
County causing more damage. This tornado destroyed or heavily damaged nearly 100 homes.
Dozens of additional homes sustained minor damage with another couple hundred homes were
affected by the storm. Dozens of vehicles were also destroyed including seven Lake Township police
vehicles and eight school buses. Hundreds of trees were toppled or snapped by the tornado
along the damage path which was up to 400 yards in width. The tornado debarked some of the
larger trees along the damage path. At least one high tension utility pole was toppled by the
tornado and widespread power outages occurred in Millbury and Walbridge. The exact number of
injuries caused by this tornado is unknown, but at least 17 people had to be hospitalized in nearby
Toledo. Debris from this tornado has been found dozens of miles away, including on some of the
islands in western Lake Erie. Five other tornadoes were reported on the 5th and
6th. There was one fatality in Erie County, Pennsylvania.
At least one high tension utility pole was toppled by the tornado and widespread power outages
occurred in Millbury and Walbridge.
Damage to the Lake Township infrastructure was estimated at five million dollars with tens of
millions of losses to the Lake Local School District.
February 1-2, 2011: Freezing Rain, Sleet, and Snow
Three waves of wintry precipitation affected the local area on February 1st and
2nd as low pressure moved up the Ohio Valley. The first wave of precipitation moved
into the region early on the 1st and ended just after daybreak. A coating of ice
was reported in most areas along with some light snow. The second wave of precipitation
began during the late afternoon and evening hours. Most of this was also mixed freezing rain
and sleet. Only the northwestern corner of the area saw predominantly snow. Ice accumulations
of between one quarter and one half inch were reported along with an inch or more of sleet
accumulation. This mixture coated area roads and streets and resulted in treacherous travel. A
few power outages resulted from the freezing rain early on the 1st. Power outages were more
numerous on 2nd. Trees and power lines already weighted down from ice from the first wave gave
way with this second round of ice. Stark County was especially hard hit by power outages. Over
50,000 residents in the Canton area alone lost power. Wrap around snow behind the low affected
northern Ohio during the daylight hours of the 2nd. Some of the snow was locally heavy with
visibilities at times less than a quarter mile. Much of the area saw between one and three inches of
snow. Strong winds also accompanied the precipitation with gusts as high as 40 mph during the
morning hours of the 2nd. Over 500 schools were closed in northern Ohio and
northwestern Pennsylvania on February 1st and 2nd. Many schools remained closed on February
3rd because of residual thick ice on parking lots, sidewalks and secondary roads. This ice
resulted from the combination of two days of mixed freezing rain, sleet and snow and was up to two
inches thick in some areas. Removing the ice from sidewalks and driveways was nearly
It took several days for power to be fully restored
June 29, 2012: Derecho
A line of intense thunderstorms or Derecho developed over northern Indiana during the early
afternoon hours of June 29th. This line of storms intensified as it moved across Central Ohio later
in the afternoon. Extensive damage was reported in Hancock, Wyandot, Marion, Morrow and Knox
Counties. Lesser amounts of damage were reported just to the north of these counties. The damage
from this Derecho is comparable to the damage from the remnants of Hurricane Ike in 2008. Thousands
of trees and hundreds of utility poles were downed by this line of storms. A 84 mph wind gust
was measured in Findlay. Cleanup costs were significant from this storm. Cleanup efforts
were hampered by an ongoing heat wave with afternoon temperatures as warm as 100 degrees. The
damage was even more severe across Central Ohio were over a million people in the Columbus area lost
power. This Derecho continued to the east coast causing major damage along the way.
Hundreds of thousands of people lost power for as long as a week.
Power was not fully restored in Hancock County till July 6th
October 29-30, 2012: Remnants of Hurricane Sandy
Hurricane Sandy tracked up the
east coast of the United States and merged with an upper level system on October 29, 2012. Sandy
transitioned to a post-tropical cyclone and came onshore around 8 pm EDT in Southern New Jersey with
an impressive central pressure of 946 mb. The remnants of Sandy then tracked west across
Pennsylvania overnight on October 29 and brought damaging winds and prolonged rainfall to Northern
Ohio. Northerly winds were especially strong downwind of Lake Erie with a peak gust to 68 mph
reported at Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Winds gusted to more than 60 mph for several hours. The
strong winds caused extensive tree damage with widespread power outages and caused structural damage
to some buildings. Hundreds of homes lost roofing or siding or were damaged by fallen
trees. Power outages associated with this storm exceeded 250,000 customers across Northern
Ohio, with over 160,000 outages in Cuyahoga County alone. The Cleveland Metro area was
particularly hard hit by this storm with many area schools closed for two days. Air traffic was
stopped at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport from late on October 29 to approximately noon on
The strong northerly winds caused a two to three foot storm surge along the south shore of Lake
Erie along with 15 to 20 foot waves. Water crashing over the break wall closed Interstate 90 on the
east side of Cleveland for several hours. Area marinas sustained damage with reports of many
personal watercraft submerged and additional boats drifting out into the lake. According to the
Coast Guard, 118 vessels were either sunk or significantly damaged. Beach erosion was reported at
numerous beaches and sand had to be cleared from the roadways along in Port Clinton.
Power outages associated with this storm exceeded 250,000 customers across Northern Ohio.
Power wasn't restored in some areas for over a week.
July 10, 2013:
Severe Thunderstorms and Flooding
A hot and humid airmass remained in place over the Ohio Valley on July 10th. This
led to widespread severe weather and flooding and even a couple weak tornadoes. Strong
thunderstorms dumped heavy rain on the local area during the predawn hours. Significant
flooding occurred in the City of Mansfield where flood waters up to three feet deep inundated the
north end of the city. Then, a line of intense thunderstorms developed ahead of an advancing
cold front during the afternoon hours. Thunderstorm wind gusts in excess of 70 mph were
reported. Seneca and Sandusky Counties in north central Ohio were especially hard hit.
Thousands of downed trees and widespread power outages were reported. The Bellevue area was
especially hard by the combination of straight line winds and a weak tornado. These storms
also produced very heavy rainfall with rainfall rates of three inches per hour. This combined
with ground already saturated led to the renewal of flooding. A swath of heavy rainfall from
Wadsworth east into the Akron area led to devastating flooding. In Wadsworth, flooding from
Holmes Brook and the River Styx overwhelmed portions of the city. Numerous people had to
rescued from stranded homes and vehicles. The flooding in Akron was similar with numerous
water rescues reported. Thousands of homes in the Upper Ohio Valley sustained damage from the
Nearly every street in Bellevue had damage of some sort and it took five days for power to be
restored to the majority of the city.
At least 100 people had to be evacuated from their homes in Wadsworth.
As many as 250,000 electric customers lost power