LIMA — The National Weather Service is predicting thunderstorms that could produce winds in excess of 70 mph Wednesday, and with a derecho weather event as a possiblity, too.
A derecho is a widespread, long-lived wind storm that can potentially cause as much damage as a tornado. A derecho that moved through the region last June knocked out power for almost half of electricity customers in the state, blew over trees, power polls, and in some cases, parts of buildings.
But as of Tuesday afternoon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Nick Greenawalt said it’s not 100 percent clear whether such an event will take place.
“It’s still pretty conditional, because there are a lot of little details that could change where the more significant wind threat is at this point,” Greenawalt said. “It’s hard to say the potential is there for that … given the atmosphere is a lot different this time around than it was last June.”
Greenawalt said the drought had likely exacerbated storm season last year, making it hotter than usual. This summer though, temperatures have been more mild, and it has been raining more frequently.
The widespread storms stretching from Illinois to West Virginia are expected to start up Tuesday night and last most of Wednesday. Hail and high volume winds are predicted in much of that area, some in excess of 70 mph.
He said at least 1 to 2 inches of precipitation is expected in the west central Ohio region Wednesday, in addition to storms that stretch from late morning into the evening. What’s more likely to happen are floods, with the significant amount of rain expected to come in.
American Electric Power Ohio replaced many wooden polls in the region that were damaged in last year’s storms with modern, metal polls. But Russ Decker, director of the Allen County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, said the region is now better prepared for severe weather this summer in other ways, too.
“When you have high winds, you have the derecho, and you have the ice storm, in some ways, it kind of helps,” Decker said. “Because it prunes those trees that are vulnerable to falls and it takes them out. So they’re not here for this storm.”
Steven Odenweller, with the Putnam County Office of Public Safety, said emergency groups work all year long in order to prepare for events.
“We’re just constantly ready for whatever might happen,” Odenweller said. “We’re always preparing, altering our plans, trying to make them a little better, working with the different services just to be ready.”