Highland County escaped the worst of the damage from the storms that passed through the area early Thursday morning, while neighboring counties, especially, Clinton, took the brunt of the storm, including a “highly likely” tornado.
Severe thunderstorms and high winds took out power lines, knocked down tree limbs and damaged property across southwest Ohio. A flash flood watch was in effect in several area counties until 6 p.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.
Branden Jackman, public information officer for the Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District, said Thursday that downed trees closed both North High Street in Hillsboro near the post office and U.S. 50 at Hill Road west of Hillsboro. He said an early morning outbuilding fire on Kincaid Road off SR 138 east of Hillsboro was blamed on lightning.
The Ohio Department of Transportation said SR 753, approximately three miles south of Greenfield was closed due to downed trees. ODOT said “other routes in the area may also be affected by downed trees, limbs and branches.”
ODOT crews “will be out to clear the roads, but motorists traveling U.S. 50 and SR 753 will need to seek alternate routes and use additional caution on other roads,” according to the statement Thursday morning.
The NWS in Wilmington warned Thursday morning, “Several clusters of strong to severe thunderstorms with torrential rainfall rates will continue to move across the watch area this morning and possibly again this afternoon. Those living near small creeks and streams, which respond quickly to heavy rain, need to monitor rainfall and stream levels. Those traveling are encouraged to be alert for water over road … and turn around if water is indeed flowing over the road.”
Power outages impacted neighboring counties much more than Highland County. In Highland County, AEP reported no outages Thursday morning, but South Central Power Company’s website showed 138 Highland County homes without power as of 11:30 a.m.
By comparison, the AEP map showed 3,926 without power in Ross County, 619 in Adams County and 279 in Pike County. South Central showed an additional 989 in Ross County, 2 in Pike and 1 in Brown County.
In Clinton County, more than 2,000 customers were without power at around 8 a.m. Thursday, according to Dayton Power & Light’s power outage map.
Nearby Fayette and Warren counties were also hard hit with outages, and Debbie Carity, a spokesperson for DP&L, said 22,000 customers were without power in all of its 24 counties.
At one point early Thursday, the NWS in Wilmington tweeted that it was “highly likely” that a tornado was on the ground and crossing into Clinton County. The storm was northwest of Cowan Lake State Park.
Nathan Kraatz of the Wilmington News Journal contributed to this story.