Weekend storm packs big punch to WNF

Published 10:07 am Tuesday, July 14, 2009

IRONTON — Residents and officials throughout Lawrence County were still cleaning up the damage caused by a violent line of thunderstorms that pounded the area Saturday afternoon.

Hardest hit were the northern and eastern parts of the county where rain fell at times near two inches an hour accompanied by 65 mile-per-hour winds. A possible funnel cloud was reported near Pedro, the National Weather Service said.

The storm also produced quarter-inch sized hail and flash flooding throughout much of the county. Eastern sections received nearly two inches of rain from the storm while parts of southwestern Lawrence County saw rain totals top three inches.

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Hardest hit was the Wayne National Forest where powerful straight—line winds toppled more than 40 trees and power lines. Damage was so extensive that forest officials closed Big Bend Beach indefinitely due to the damage.

As of Monday, up to 15 trees were still blocking roadway access to the beach. Three picnic tables and a grill were also destroyed.

Wayne National Forest Ranger Marsha Wikle said despite the beach being closed, forest patrons can swim at any other part of the Lake Vesuvius where swimming is permitted.

She did not estimate when the beach would reopen.

Wikle added that nearly half the trees in the overlook area were also snapped by the brut force winds and most were healthy oaks and pines.

“The result of the damage is going to be a tremendous vista at the overlook,” Wikle said when explaining the new landscape of the popular location.

Forest officials said water to the Iron Ridge Campground was turned off due to a broken waterline from an uprooted tree.

Wikle admitted she was “amazed no personal injuries were reported” from within the park due to the storm.

While no injuries were reported by forest officials, lightning produced by the fast-moving storm injured two from Elizabeth Township.

Around 6 p.m. Saturday, rescue sofficials responded to a 911 call that lightning may have injured several people near Township Road 323, south of Pedro.

Two of the victims were transported to Cabell Huntington Hospital where one was reported to be unconscious.

Late Monday, officials released the names and conditions of those struck.

Injured was Ina Boyer of Hanging Rock, who is listed in good condition and Carol Waddell of Coal Grove who was treated and released.

High winds were responsible for downed trees in Ironton and along State Routes 93 and 141 and County Roads 5 and 29. Fierce winds were also responsible for large power outages in Green and Porter townships in Scioto County.

Much of the Wheelersburg business district was without power until it was restored Monday morning.

The next chance of severe weather is currently forecast for the middle of the week. Wednesday has a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms while Thursday’s chance is 30 percent.