LORAIN — A midspring storm front ushered in pingpong-ball-sized hail, tornado warnings and power outages across northern Ohio on Friday night.
By 9 p.m., the temperature had dropped nearly 20 degrees from the low-80s it had been and an assault of rain and lightning began soon after.
Lorain County had heavy showers for about 30 minutes before the rain tapered off and turned into a mix of heavy and light showers for the rest of the night. The National Weather Service in Cleveland had issued tornado warnings for Erie and Lorain counties during the evening, but no funnel clouds were spotted, according to meteorologist Kirk Lombardy of the weather service.
As of 11 p.m. Friday, FirstEnergy reported outages on its website in Elyria, Lorain and Avon Lake, with less than 500 homes in each city without power. Falling branches and trees were likely to blame, and the area can expect more of the same today as high winds up to 30 mph will mix with rain until late afternoon.
“Sometimes with a lot of rain, it saturates the ground and trees tend to topple,” said Lombardy. “Plus, there are leaves now, so with those leaf canopies branches can fall just as easily.”
A fallen branch Friday nearly soured one family’s special night after the limb of an old buckeye tree snapped and crashed into some power lines on West Ninth Street near Oberlin Avenue in Lorain.
Teresa Clark was just finishing a birthday celebration for her 11-year-old daughter when she heard a limb crash outside.
“We were putting away the grill and I heard it. I ran out here and I saw the power lines fall and the top of the pole catch on fire,” she said.
Police closed the street, and several houses lost power.
In Elyria, lightning hit a Brandemere Court house a little after 9 p.m. The Elyria Fire Department reported minimal damage beyond a small hole in the roof. No one was injured, and the house was habitable.
A low-pressure system out of Missouri created unstable conditions that fueled the storms, Lombardy said.
High temperatures today will only get into the mid- to upper-50s with gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service, and a high-wind warning remains in effect until 6 this evening.