2012-03-24 / Front Page

Storm Dumps on Hebron

Four- inch rainfall causes flash flood
By Scott Rawdon and Charles Prince

Beacon photos by CharlesPrince. Cumberland andNorth streets photos courtesyHebron Police Department. Beacon photos by CharlesPrince. Cumberland andNorth streets photos courtesyHebron Police Department. HEBRON – Beware the Ides of March, indeed!

This year, March 15 was a particularly memorable one for Hebron and Buckeye Lake residents who experienced f lashing f looding and other weather related issues after a massive storm pounded the area with up to five inches of rain and up to one-inch hail.

The storm started in earnest about 4:45 a.m. last Thursday morning and dumped most of its rain and hail in a little over an hour. The National Weather Service rain gauge at Buckeye Lake recorded 4.06 inches and a gauge at Hebron’s Water Treat ment plant measured over 4 inches in a little over an hour. Rainfall at other National Weather Service rain gauges in central Ohio ranged from 0.5 to 1.0 inches.

“What happened over you guys was fairly impressive,” said Jim Lott, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “It was really just a thunderstorm.” He said the storm, which felt and sounded like it could have spawned a tornado but didn’t, was act ually a ver y slow moving event called a “backbuilding” thunderstorm that kept accumulating behind itself. According to DictionGloss.com, a back-building thunderstorm is an event in which new development takes place on the upwind side, such that the storm seems to remain stationary or propagate in a backward direction. “It just happened to line up over Licking County,” said Lott.

If considered a 60-minute storm, four inches of rain is off the National Weather Services’ chart for average recurrence. For example, 3.77 inches of rain over 60 minutes occurs once every 1,000 years. If considered a two-hour storm, 3.89 inches of rain is a once every 200 years occurrence and 4.48 inches of rain is a once every 500 years event.

Water backed up to flood levels very quickly, particularly in Hebron. The village’s midnight shift police officer said North Street had a few inches of standing water from the heavy rain and then 10- 15 minutes later was completely impassable in the lower areas, particularly around 6th Street where water was some four feet deep. Cully Alley became a raging torrent with water from the west side of town flowing east. Both buildings at Crossroads Dental Group were damaged and Clay’s Café was inundated. See the story on Clay’s cleanup on Page 3.

Water levels also rose quickly in Greenbriar Estates mobile home park just east of Ohio 79. Floodwaters closed off access to the park and damaged vehicles, storage buildings, mobile home skirting and some homes. Area fire departments and emergency workers used boats to bring stranded residents to dry land. Electrical and gas service was shut off to the area as a precaution.

Streets throughout Hebron were underwater and impassable for most vehicles including portions of Canal Road, Cumberland Street, Basin Street, Water Street, Refugee Road and 2nd Street. Areas most affected were near the creeks that move storm water, west to east through the village, to the South Fork of the Licking River.

Lakewood Schools were closed for the day with the entire Hebron Elementary School staff volunteering to help in the cleanup.

Floodwaters generally retreated in a matter of hours, but the damage was done. Receding water often left debris from corn harvesting, including cobs and silage.

It could have been much worse. Though the storm dumped four some inches of water on Hebron, rainfall totals were significantly less just a few miles west of the village. One farmer unofficially reported a little over two inches while a National Weather Service gauge just north of Kirkersville reported 0.75 inches and one between Alexandria and Johnstown - the headwaters of the South Fork - measured just 0.50 inches. Those much lower rainfalls meant that the South Fork’s contribution to flooding in the Buckeye Lake/Hebron bowl area was significantly less than more recent floods that have primary affected the Swamp Road area, West Bank, Ohio 360, Village of Buckeye Lake, Sunny Acres in Hebron and traffic on I-70.

If the four plus-inch rainfall been over a wider area, particularly in the South Fork watershed, the impact would have been devastating, particularly in the Ohio 360 and Buckeye Lake Village areas and further downstream.

The storm came during an unusually warm week for mid- March. AccuWeather.com reported more than 1,200 record high temperatures were set over the past week across the U.S., and nearly 6,000 record highs have been recorded since the beginning of 2012.

From March 8-14, 2012, the total number of records is 1,226, according to the National Climatic Data Center.

On Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012 alone, 423 records were set.

From the beginning of the year (Jan. 1-March 12, 2012), there has been a total of 5,618 record highs. In comparison, Jan. 1-March 31, 2011, there were only 2,800 record highs recorded.

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