breaking news

Possible tornado reported in NE Ohio

Published: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 @ 10:31 PM
Updated: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 @ 10:31 PM

Officials in Stow, northeast of Akron and west of Kent, are reporting that a possible tornado hit the city's Quail Highlands neighborhood on Wednesday afternoon, The Akron Beacon Journal reported Wednesday night via its Ohio.com website.

The National Weather Service said trained weather spotters reported a rotating wall cloud in Wayne County, near Smithville High School, at 4:30 p.m. There were reports of some minor damage to utility poles.

A Rittman dispatcher said everyone thought the city had been hard-hit by the storms, but that wasn't the case.

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"The National Weather Service said we had a tornado touch down," she said. "We haven't seen anything."

Tornado sirens sounded in numerous Akron-area communities. FirstEnergy reported more than 1,600 customers were without power in Summit County at the storm's peak.

At about 5 p.m., the storm reached Akron, where a dispatcher said a few traffic accidents occurred at its onset - but nothing with any serious injuries.

Students at the University of Akron, told to seek shelter. The university canceled evening classes. As the storms moved east, Kent State University students were told to seek shelter. Students from both universities huddled in basements and tweeted images of crowded hallways.

The Portage County sheriff, Portage County state Highway Patrol and Streetsboro police had reports of downed trees. The weather service reported a suspected tornado touched down in Hiram at about 6 p.m. Dispatchers confirmed that emergency crews were responding. Motorists and weather watchers took to Twitter to relay word that state Route 305 east of Hiram had been closed because of storm debris.

In Stow, several residents said they saw swirling debris as the storm hit their community at about 5:30 p.m. Paulette Washko was riding home from her job at Kent State on a 150-pound, solar-powered tricycle when the storm hit.

"When I rounded the corner, it was just pandemonium - stuff flying everywhere," she said. "I didn't see the tornado. I just saw everything flying."