Storms rolled through most of Lorain County, with the worst hitting the northernmost municipalities early Saturday evening.
The storms knocked out power for thousands of First Energy customers, with more than 5,000 still without power at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, according to the company’s online outage map. The worst hit outage-wise was Avon, Avon Lake and Elyria Township.
Brief thunderstorms and strong winds knocked down trees and damaged power lines, with a number of waterspouts forming over Lake Erie, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.
“A water spout is a weak tornado over the water, usually not necessarily associated with a strong thunderstorm, unlike a typical (tornado),” meteorologist Brian Mitchell said. “But the waterspouts can form from some weaker showers just over the lake a lot of times during this time of year with the lake, still relatively warm, (getting) the colder air coming across ...”
He said the worst of the storm was between 4 and 5 p.m., with high winds and a number of reports of pea-sized hail closer to the lake. A wind advisory was in effect until 4 a.m. today for Lorain, Erie, Cuyahoga, Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties. A wind advisory is issued for sustained winds of 31 to 39 mph or gusts between 46 and 57 mph, according to the advisory. Northwest winds were expected to be between 15 and 30 mph with gusts up to 45 mph, with the strongest winds near the lakeshore. Mitchell said a special marine warning was issued along Lake Erie for waterspouts and strong winds.
“It’s just the time of year; we’ve been in the pattern of a strong cold front coming down and moving through, with the addition of the warmer water of the lake, it leaves all that available moisture in the air and all that cold air coming across it,” he said.
Mitchell said the weather service had received reports of trees down in Avon Lake, and suspected the same for most of the northern half of the county.
Avon Lake firefighter Mark Walters agreed. He said the city had received a high volume of calls, but nothing out of the ordinary for the type of storm that moved through.
“We’ve had just a lot of downed power lines,” he said. “Other than that, a lot of limbs have gotten knocked down. For the most part it’s just been the typical weather-related issues where you have limbs down just knocking out power.”
The cold front came from south central Canada, moving through Ohio and on to the East Coast.
“It’s moving pretty quick, so by morning it’s going to be along the East Coast,” Mitchell said. “So everybody’s kind of sharing in the winds and colder temperatures. A big chunk of anybody south and east of the Great Lakes are certainly sharing in it.”
He said there was a chance of mixed precipitation overnight, including sleet or snow mixed with rain, but it looked like today and into the week would be calm.
“The front just stirred things up pretty good,” Mitchell said. “Just kind of the battle of the season a little bit with the colder air wanting to push through.”