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June 21-22, 2006 Severe Storms and Flooding

Cuyahoga River at Independence Reaches Record Stage

Two Tornadoes: Holmes and Stark Counties

After over two weeks of dry weather, northern Ohio received a deluge of rainfall, flooding large expanses of counties from Lucas county in northwest Ohio through Huron county to Cuyahoga county.

There were numerous reports of severe weather in the form of damaging winds and large hail. A NWS Storm Survey revealed two tornadoes touched down, one in Holmes county (F2) and the other in Stark county (F1). Elsewhere across northern Ohio, widespread straight line wind damage downed many trees and power lines, and several buildings sustained structural damage.


On Wednesday, June 21, a warm front was located across western Ohio focusing showers and thunderstorms with heavy rainfall across northwest Ohio. That complex of storms pushed east with the front Wednesday evening. That placed northern Ohio in the warm sector, allowing warm and very moist air to be pumped into the region.

As the cold front associated with this system approached Ohio, it slowed down, allowing additional storms to form and track repeatedly over the same locations. The cold front finally passed south across Ohio Friday morning.

Click here for a loop of the surface frontal progression.

The complex of thunderstorms which developed over northern Ohio on the 21st brought torrential rainfall in excess of 6 inches in 6 hours across much of northwest and north central Ohio between Lucas County (Toledo Area) and Ashland County (60 miles southwest of Cleveland).  Massive urban flooding was reported in Sylvania and Toledo in Lucas County, Port Clinton in Ottawa County, and Norwalk in Huron County.  Primary and secondary roads throughout the region were impassable, and many water rescues and evacuations took place.  Flooding across this area was by far the worst since 1969, when 10 to 14 inches of rain fell under a similar weather pattern.  Norwalk was particularly hard hit, with over 800 homes flooded or evacuated Wednesday night.  Water flowing out from the Norwalk Reservoir Spillway was at a level not seen since 1969, when the dam failed. 

storm total precipitation

Radar estimates of rainfall from the 21st (between Noon and 8 am the next morning) were as much as 5 to 7 inches (blue colorfill) with isolated higher amounts. The swath of rainfall went through Lucas, Sandusky, and Huron counties.

Downstream from Norwalk, the Huron River at Milan (Erie County) rose to its third highest crest on record, at 23.95 feet.  The next major river to the east, the Vermilion River at Vermilion, while not having a top ten crest, did have its third highest flow on record.  As a result from the tremendous amount of water flowing downstream, docks and boats were washed out into Lake Erie from their moorings in downtown Vermilion.

A nearly stationary thunderstorm which developed over Cuyahoga and Summit County on the 22nd dumped 5 to 6 inches of rain in less than 2 hours, and brought the Cuyahoga River at Independence to a new record high of 23.33 feet.  The previous record was 22.41 feet, set in 1959.  According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, nearly 3600 homes in Cuyahoga County sustained damage related to the flash flood. The following hydrograph is from the USGS.

Cuyahoga at Independence

Notable 2 day precipitation totals for the area:

Lucas Co - Univ of Toledo   7.25   (fell in 8 hours)
Huron Co - Southern Norwalk   6.66   (fell in 11 hours)
Erie Co - Vermilion   6.50  (fell in 12 hours)
Huron Co - Norwalk WWTP    5.74 
Cuyahoga Co - Solon  5.60
Summit Co - Twinsburg   5.34
Huron Co - Fitchville    5.30
Lucas Co - West Toledo   5.15
Erie Co - Finday State Park  5.12
Seneca Co - Tiffin    4.79
Lorain Co - Penfield    4.60
Lorain Co - Canton Twp   4.65

The National Weather Service had to conduct a storm survey on damage left behind from two thunderstorms, one that crossed Holmes County and the other crossing Stark County, on June 22. The survey team discovered widespread downburst wind damage over both Holmes and Stark counties. They also found two distinct tornado tracks within these counties.

Stark County Radar Reflectivity Image Radar Storm Relative Motion
Event: Tornado
Fujita Scale F1
Time: 5:45 P.M.
Length: ~ 4 miles long
Width: 50-75 yards
Location: Initial touchdown was just west of Brewster and the tornado lifted near Navarre. The tornado track was embedded within areas of downburst wind damage.
Holmes County Radar Reflectivity Image Radar Storm Relative Motion
Event: F2
Time: 5:30 P.M.
Length: ~ 6 miles long
Width: 50-100 yards
Location: The tornado touchdown was just west of Mt. Hope and tracked east to near Winesburg. The vast majority of the damage was F1, with a few areas of F2 damage.




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