PARKERSBURG - Severe thunderstorms swept through the Mid-Ohio Valley Wednesday, bringing heavy rain and hail nearly an inch in diameter.
The line of severe thunderstorms moved east across the state, hitting Wood County around 5 p.m. The storms caused major power outages in Spencer and blew down trees throughout Wood and surrounding counties.
"The set up was right today for this kind of severe weather and hail. We've heard reports of hail bigger than an inch in diameter in several areas of the state," said Dave Marsalek, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Charleston.
A tornado watch was issued Wednesday for Wood County, as well 43 counties covering the majority of the state. In Ohio, the tornado watch affected 62 counties, including Meigs, Noble and Washington.
Overall, the tornado warning also included the majority of Kentucky and parts of Virginia.
The tornado watch remained in place until around 7 p.m. Weather officials said no tornadoes were spotted.
Dave Rossana of Parkersburg wades through the intersection of Washington Avenue and Elm Street during Wednesday's heavy rain after he, Antonio Garcia, background, Patrick Cathey and Kevin Miller unclogged storm drains at the intersection. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"In this type of severe weather we do watch very closely for tornadic activity," said Marsalek.
Pea-sized hail rained down over the Mid-Ohio Valley around 5:15 p.m., littering roadways with pellets of ice.
Larger hail was reported throughout the area, with reports of hail .88 of an inch in diameter in Parkersburg and an inch in diameter in Little Hocking.
"Precipitation usually starts out in the form of ice," said Marsalek. "In a severe thunderstorm, you get these intense updrafts which cause the ice particles to grow in size, and eventually, fall to the earth as hail."
The storm brought strong gusts of wind, reaching up to 66 mph in Clarksburg. The strongest wind gust around Parkersburg was recorded at 56 mph.
Winds and rain caused several power outages in the region.
The town of Spencer in Roane County was without electricity most of the evening. About 4,100 people went without power around 6 p.m. because of a blown fuse and downed power lines, according to Allegheny Power.
The estimated time of power restoration was midnight, according to the company website.
"The 911 center has been relying on a generator since about 6 p.m.," said a dispatcher with the Roane County 911 Center. "We're in the heart of Spencer, so we are in the middle of all this. We had trees down and power lines down all over the place."
Several trees were reported down on Main Street and a few backroads in Spencer, but by 8 p.m. they were cleared, he said.
Calhoun County 911 Center reported no major problems aside from five reports of large tree limbs down.
Wood County reported a few power lines down, including one on Rosemar Road which caused power outages for 733 Vienna residents.
Outages affected 60 residents of Parkersburg and 20 residents in Williamstown. The Allegheny Power website reported an estimated restoration time of midnight.
A tree was reported down by River Road in Vienna, but was not blocking the road, said a dispatcher with the Wood County 911 Center.
A few traffic accidents involving minor back-end damage and no injuries were reported around 5:30 p.m. at the intersection of Rayon Drive and Pike Street and in the 4000 block of Ninth Street in Parkersburg.
"It didn't get too crazy," said a dispatcher at the Wood County 911 Center.
The rest of the week will bring chilly temperatures in the 40s.
"We will be seeing drastic changes in temperatures, which is very normal for this time of year," said Marsalek. "You could see a few snow flurries, but no accumulation is expected."