Melting snow and severe thunderstorms combined to cause widespread flooding across Noble County late Monday and early Tuesday.
The temperature overnight hit 52 degrees, 20 degrees over the average high. Extremely dense fog, with visibility zero at times, was the problem until around 11:30 p.m. Then a line of severe and unusual February thunderstorms pummeled the area with wind, lightning, and downpours of rain.
It was the rain, combined with rapid snowmelt from several inches of snow that fell just a few days earlier, which caused the most problems. With the ground still frozen, the water had no place to go and began collecting in low lying areas. Emergency dispatchers began receiving reports that vehicles, their drivers not taking the weather into consideration, were losing control when they hit patches of water.
Several spots along SR 8 became flooded, as did areas along SR 5. Noble County Highway Department personnel ran out of high water signs as they crisscrossed the county, investigating more and more reports of flooding. Albion utility workers were called out to a report of an area along East Seneca Street flooding with so much water it surrounded nearby homes, and high water was also reported on South and Orange streets.
Kendallville and LaOtto firefighters were called out on sandbagging details to protect homes, while Noble County Emergency Management Director Michael Newton came out to ready a supply of extra sandbags and check problem areas.
Newton says a portion of the Elkhart River, near Cosperville, rose four inches in just an hour or so, because of the runoff.
An electrical strike was so bright it shut off street lights across the east part of Albion, leaving a portion of the town in eerie darkness until the lights cycled back on. The Sheriff's Department dispatch center lost power for a few moments.
Meanwhile, power went completely out in a portion of the west end of town. Albion Police checked on a west side resident who depended on a home oxygen supply, but reportedly had enough in backup tanks to last until electricity returned.
A lightning strike might have been responsible for a possible fire, reported in a Kimmell residence at 12:28 p.m. The residents smelled smoke just after the first line of storms went through, but were unable to find a fire. Cromwell firefighters checked the Noe Street residence as a precaution, but no damage was reported.
Also during the storm, police checked on three automatic alarms, all of which proved false and were believed to have been caused by the storm's lightning or wind.