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Health, Science & Environment

Central Ohio under flood watch until Saturday afternoon

Mandie Trimble, WOSU News

Central Ohio has seen three days of rainy weather and will be under a flood watch until Saturday afternoon.

The rain currently soaking Ohio comes from a piece of a storm that hit California earlier this week. Southwest Ohio is at the highest risk for isolated flooding.

Despite the warning, Franklin County Emergency Management Director Jeff Young said as of Friday afternoon, he hadn’t heard of any problems caused by high water. “So right now, we appear to be, I would say, reasonably secure or aren’t anticipating any significant actions based upon the current volume of rain,” Young said.

Franklin County EMA and other organizations keep an eye on the river levels using the National Weather Service’s Hydraulic Prediction Service. The service shows that the Franklinton area, which has been subject to flooding in the past, may see the Scioto River rising to 21 feet Saturday afternoon. The flood stage is 24 feet, though officials usually start to pay attention at 16 feet, which is the “action” level for the river.

“And at 16, that doesn’t mean they’re putting up the flood wall or closing roads,” Young said.

The Columbus Department of Utilities manages the Franklinton flood wall. Young said as water levels rise overnight and Saturday, city employees may have to take steps like closing valves or monitoring the creeks that flow into the area.

NBC4 meteorologist Ben Gelber says the bulk of the rain will come overnight with some thunder, lightning and potentially damaging winds.

"And then the rest of the day Saturday will be a typical march day. Gusty winds, a mix of clouds and sun, a midday shower. But again, wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour through early afternoon could cause some power outages," Gelber said.

More people lose their lives in the U.S from flash flooding than tornadoes, thunderstorms and lighting combined.

This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Ohio and Gelber says it is the perfect time to have a plan in case of emergencies.

While the rain event is not considered historic, two to five inches of rain is still something to pay attention to.

"This time of year with lack of vegetation to absorb moisture, and the potential for a clash of cold and warm air and slow moving weather systems, we do pay close attention to these events even if the flooding turns out to be mostly minor or nuisance flooding," Gelber said.

Other problem areas in the county include about a dozen homes in Worthington near the county line that sit close to the Olentangy River and low-lying areas along Walnut Creek from Hoover Reservoir toward Gahanna, Young said.

He expects those areas will not experience serious flooding Friday night or Saturday.

Health, Science & Environment WeatherSevere Weatherflood rain
Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.