Continuous rainfall overloads sewers, creeks

SANDUSKY As rain drenched Erie and Huron County residents Monday morning, Emergency Management Agenc
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

As rain drenched Erie and Huron County residents Monday morning, Emergency Management Agencies prepared for the worst that was yet to come.

The official flood warning came just before 2 p.m., but county engineers and emergency management workers were already in action.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service anticipated the Huron River would crest a minimum of 2 feet above flood stage later Monday.

Officials in Bellevue were already up to their shins in floodwaters from an overloaded storm water sewer system; residents were bailing out their basements and looking for water pumps by the time the warning for Erie County was issued.

Continuous rainfall amounted to 3.5 inches by early afternoon in Sandusky, and radar projections showed no end in sight with rain as far west as Illinois.

After nearly 48 hours of rainfall with only a few hours of respite, water poured from ditches into creeks and rivers across the Firelands region. Saturated fields became temporary lakes, and many roadways were closed by high water.

The reason for the heavy rainfall is twofold, explained meteorologist John Gresiak of Accuweather forecasting service.

A front heading further north this morning is partially responsible for the downpours.

Two air masses stalled across the area -- one stretching from Nebraska to the east coast with cool air from the north, and another pushing upward from the south with hot and humid air, Gresiak said.

"The front to the south is climbing up over the northern one, and the heat and humidity are being released in the form of rain," he said.

The system was also fueled by remaining tropical moisture from now-defunct tropical storm Aaron.

Aaron made landfall in Texas last week, Gresiak said, but is still affecting weather hundreds of miles north.

The weather pattern should break today, but the hot and humid air will prevail, making scattered thunderstorms a possibility, Gresiak said.

As of 10 p.m. Monday Erie, Huron, Ottawa and Sandusky counties remained under a flood warning from the National Weather Service.