Katrina plows into Gulf Coast

Kimberly Dick

Storm to bring rain to Kent

This time when the forecast calls for rain, the meteorologists mean bring an umbrella — or two.

As remnants of Hurricane Katrina move north into the Great Lakes region, heavy rain and isolated thunderstorms are predicted for Portage County, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

There is a flood watch in effect from noon today until 4 p.m. tomorrow, said Martin Thompson, hydrometeorological technician for the National Weather Service in Cleveland.

“The wide-spread rain is expected to amount to about two to four inches by tomorrow night and could be more in some spots,” said Bob Reed, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh.

Strong winds potentially do exist, but nothing like what the residents of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama experienced, Reed said. The storm is rapidly weakening as it moves north.

“Katrina should start to really take off when it hits here,” said Scott Sheridan, associate professor of climatology. Earlier it looked like it would affect the area for 48 hours. Now it looks like only 24. This is the kind of event where we could see a ton of rain or nothing at all.

Northeast Ohio may get more rain because it is on the east side of the hurricane, which is always the worst, said Jason Senkbeil, a doctorate student in geography. This is caused by the prevailing winds blowing from the west, he said.

Senkbeil has family in Mobile, Ala., in the southwest corner of the state. He said they missed a day of work yesterday and were sitting around playing cards.

“They are used to it. It’s nothing big to them. People up here don’t understand exactly what a hurricane is because they never experienced it,” said Senkbeil, who has chased hurricanes. “And the TV media likes to sensationalize their coverage.”

Katrina’s aftermath in Portage County will differ from the remnants of Hurricane Francis and Hurricane Ivan that came through Northeast Ohio last September.

Without the previous hurricane to saturate the ground nine days before, the rivers are slower and the ground is dryer, and flooding may not be as severe because the ground will soak in the water fast, Reed said.

“Right now it doesn’t look catastrophic, but there is the potential for flooding,” Reed said. “But every time there is a risk of flooding, it is dangerous, so that is why we have the warning.”

Contact public affairs reporter Kimberly Dick at [email protected].