Thursday, November 23, 2017 Elyria 32°


Basements flood, roads closed after Lorain County hit with heavy rainfall


The heavy rainfall over Lorain County early Tuesday morning led to temporary road closings and scattered reports of water in basements.

The lightning that came with it also forced the temporary evacuation of the old Southview Middle School in Lorain, now known as the Lorain High School Annex, after lightning struck near the building.

Lorain Mayor Chase Ritenauer may have summed the situation up best.

“When you get a large amount of rain over a short period of time, any (sewer) system cannot handle what is being forced through it,” Ritenauer said.

Unofficial reports to the National Weather Service indicated areas in Lorain County received as much as three inches of rain during the deluge that began about 6 a.m. and continued off and on until 10 a.m.

Figures were unofficial due to the fact the weather service has no official reporting stations within the county, according to meteorologist Kristen Yeager.

Radar estimates also were used to estimate the amount of rainfall over the Lorain County area, Yeager said.

“That led us to believe there were pockets of three inches of rain locally (Lorain County area),” Yeager said.

The storms that swept through the area were concentrated over Lorain County and northeastern Medina County, Yeager said. The nearest official rainfall report came from Olmsted Township where 2.18 inches of rain fell.

The time period for the storm was unusual, Yeager said.

“We generally see thunderstorms like this in the afternoon when daytime heating leads to more instability and a greater chance of stronger storms,” Yeager said.

Downpours produced a lot of short-lived street flooding, and scattered reports of water in basements in Lorain.

Nearly four inches of rain was recorded at Elyria’s wastewater treatment plant off Gulf Road about 10 a.m., according to Safety-Service Director Mary Siwierka.

“The flow of water coming into the plant as of 10 a.m. would have equated to 110 million gallons of water in a 24-hour period,” Siwierka said. “We normally can handle 30 million gallons a day. It was so heavy and so fast that no system could handle it.”

Ritenauer said Lorain was one of the worst-hit areas.

The city suffered widespread street flooding, including 12 to 18 inches of water that temporarily closed port of Black River Lane to traffic near City Hall, the municipal pier, and Black River Landing.

A portion of Tower Boulevard was also closed to traffic for a short time.

“We had a few issues with the typical sites of our sanitary sewer overflows, including one near the wastewater treatment plant,” Ritenauer said. “That is what our tunnel project is designed to prevent.”

Students temporarily were moved from the Lorain High School Annex, 2321 Fairless Drive, about a half-mile away to the temporary Lorain High School, 2270 E. 42nd St., which used to be Southview High School, after a lightning hit close to the building at 7:50 a.m. Tuesday.

Some of the students who ended up soaked from the rain were allowed to go home and change afterward. The annex re-opened about 9 a.m.

North Ridgeville, which often experiences flooding problems during heavy rains, did not experience any serious issues, according to Safety-Service Director Jeffry Armbruster.

Jim Hartline got a big surprise about 7 a.m. when he heard a loud boom of thunder.

A short time later, the Russia Road resident and projects coordinator of the Educational Service Center’s Lorain County Early Learning Center in LaGrange discovered the reason for the noise.

Two tall cottonwood trees in his backyard had been struck by lightning, and bark and pieces of wood were torn away from each.

“It looked like lightning glanced off one tree, traveled down it, and slammed into the other one,” Hartline said. “It really decimated the one tree.”

The two trees are about 40 yards apart, and less than 40 yards from Hartline’s house.

“If one ever fell it would hit the house,” Hartline said. “They’re really tall.”

While the severe weather stopped by about 10 a.m. and the area experienced partially clear skies later in the day, forecasters were calling for another storm system to come through the area again Tuesday night that could produce high winds and hail, Yeager said.

Staff writer Evan Goodenow contributed to this report.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or

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