CLEVELAND - Strong storms with winds up to 75 mph moved through Northeast Ohio late Wednesday into Thursday morning, causing damage and extensive power outages. At one point, more than 50,000 people were without power across the region, according to FirstEnergy spokesman Mark Durbin. It's now estimated 22,000 people are still in the dark and Durbin said it could be Saturday before power is restored to some.
The storms hit land just before midnight and continued to move through the region until after 2 a.m. They left a path of damage that closed roads, shut down businesses and caused a headache for local residents.
The worst damage came in Chesterland, where the National Weather Service confirmed an EF-1 tornado touched down, with winds in excess of 80 miles per hour.
In Willoughby Hills and Kirtland area, NewsChannel5 Chief Meteorologist Mark Johnson said radar indicated a wind gust of up to 80 mph at about 12:42 a.m.
The storms caused major traffic problems Thursday morning, as traffic into downtown Cleveland from the west side was very slow moving because the closing of the Shoreway had many drivers taking alternate routes into the city. Drivers reported it taking as long as 20 minutes to travel about a quarter mile through Lakewood. Also, Interstate 90 eastbound was backed up all the way to the Hilliard Exit.
The damage was widespread, with Chesterland and Lakewood being some of the hardest hit areas. Click here to see a photo gallery of some of the damage: http://5.wews.com/9XQ.
FirstEnergy's website is reporting tens of thousands of customers without power across the region.
Here are the latest numbers as of noon:
OVERALL: More than 20,000
HARDEST HIT: Cleveland (10,000+), Parma (5,000+), Garfield Heights (2,000+), Warrensville Heights (2,000+)
OVERALL: Less than 500
OVERALL: More than 5,000
HARDEST HIT: Avon Lake (2,000+), Avon (500+), Elyria (500+)
OVERALL: More than 2,000
HARDEST HIT: Burton (500+), Chesterland (500+)
OVERALL: More than 500
HARDEST HIT: Kent (500+)
When the storm first hit land, at least 500 in each Sandusky and Erie counties were without electricity.
* 9:35 a.m.: Harvard Avenue from116th to 93rd, and Broadway Avenue look like a tornado came through, according to our Facebook fan Yvonka Hall. Large trees are down, store front windows are smashed, and the large Wendy's and Auto Parts signs are in the street.
* 9:00 a.m.: Traffic into downtown Cleveland from Lakewood is very slow moving, as the closing of the Shoreway has many drivers taking alternate routes into the city. Drivers have reported it taking as long as 20 minutes to travel about a quarter mile through Lakewood. Also, Interstate 90 eastbound is backed up all the way to the Hilliard Exit.
* 8:15 a.m.: The Giant Eagle in Chesterland sustained heavy damage from the storm blowing the clock tower off the roof of the building, sheering a tree in half and tipping over a vending machine. The grocery store is closed today as a result of the damage.
* 7:15 a.m.: Several trees are down on the west side of Cleveland, near the Lakewood border, on Lake Avenue and Clifton Boulevard.
* 6:40 a.m.: On the east side, trees are down on in the area of Martin Luther King Blvd., and 105th Street.
* 6:35 a.m.: A home on Silverdale Avenue on the south side of Cleveland had its garage destroyed because of heavy winds in the area. The winds were so powerful that they actually moved a car in resident Anthony Battaglio's driveway several feet.
* 5:55 a.m.: Interstate 480 has re-opened in Brooklyn after a large powerline was blown down across the road at about 12:30 a.m.
* 5:32 a.m.: Police in Cleveland said that the eastbound lanes of the Shoreway in Lakewood at Lake and Clifton will be closed for much of the day.
* 4:13 a.m.: High water on Interstate 90 at Dead Man's Curve. Left Lane Closed.
* 2:42 a.m.: Police in Geauga County confirm that part of the roof of the Giant Eagle store in Chesterland on Route 302 near 322 has collapsed.
* 2:33 a.m.: Police in Cleveland are blocking the Shoreway near Lake & Clifton due to a tree and power lines down in the area.
* 2:25 a.m.: Laurie in Strongsville reports that a large tree is currently blocking traffic on Prospect Road between Albion and Westwood Roads. It took out an electrical post and is sitting on a fire hydrant, as well. Lines are low to the ground and across their driveway.
* 2:20 a.m.: There were reports of a fire at the Mt. Carmel Church at West 70th and Detroit. Crews at the scene said a tree was uprooted in the storm and pulled two poles down on the roof of the church. The wires burned on the roof for quite some time. No serious damage occurred.
* 1:50 a.m.: Cleveland fire department is looking into storm damage on the east side of Cleveland, specifically in the E. 145th to 148th area. A tree down on MLK Boulevard has closed the road.
* 1:36 a.m.: A viewer on Sperry Road in Chesterland
(Geauga County) said at least 30 30-50 foot evergreen trees were uprooted in her backyard.
* 1:20 a.m.: We're hearing reports of trees down in the W. 73rd area in Cleveland, leaving fallen trees on at least three houses.
* 1:01 a.m.: NewsChannel5 viewer Barbara Bttner reported on our Facebook page : "No power in Cleveland west side...and a big tree down in our back yard on Fir Ave."
* 12:58 a.m.: Scanner reports say I-480 near Tiedeman Road is shut down due to high lines being down across the roadway.
* 12:50 a.m.: A tree was reported down in the center lane of I-77 southbound about a half-mile north of Fleet Avenue in Cleveland.
* 12:30 a.m.: Johnson said large hail estimated at great than 1 inch in diameter was reported in Ashtabula County near Geneva.
* 12:20 a.m.: Reports from trained spotters in Bellevue said trees and limbs are down across the area.
If you have any photos of storm damage, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Keep checking newsnet5.com for more information.