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Twister touches down near Ohio mall

Severe storms across southwest Ohio brought powerful winds and at least one tornado that  scattered debris across parts of four counties.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Severe storms across southwest Ohio brought powerful winds and at least one tornado that toppled gravestones, damaged roofs and scattered debris across parts of four counties.

In parts of northern Ohio, a flash flood watch was extended into Wednesday night as a new round of storms threatened to dump several inches of rain on areas already saturated from earlier storms.

The National Weather Service on Wednesday confirmed at least one tornado touched down at the Dayton Mall near Interstate 75 in Montgomery County, and investigated funnel-cloud sightings Tuesday night elsewhere in Montgomery, Butler, Clermont, Clinton and Warren counties.

The storms knocked down trees and power lines, but reports of structural damage were relatively minor — from damage to roofs of homes and stores to a freestanding sign at a Dayton comedy club being blown over. No serious injuries were reported in the storms, which also knocked over grave markers in a cemetery near Goshen in Clermont County, east of Cincinnati.

Employees at a Wal-Mart near the Dayton Mall were unloading merchandise from a trailer when the storms arrived. Jodi Leach and Melinda Carberry, both of Miamisburg, said the winds flung debris against the trailer they were working in and flipped an empty trailer a few yards away.

"We were standing in the trailer and it started rocking. ... The only thing that kept the empty trailer from hitting us was a fence," Leach said.

Chelsea Judd, 16, of Miamisburg, said the storm threw her several feet as she was taking display items inside the Fashion Bug near the Dayton Mall when the storm hit. The wind shattered the store's glass, and Judd cut her hand.

Carlisle police Chief Tim Boggess said residents in that small Warren County city had little warning just after 7 p.m. of what's believed to be the same tornado that went on to hit the Dayton Mall area.

"We had some houses with some structural damage, power lines and limbs down, no injuries," Boggess said. "We had a lot of debris, a lot of panicked people."

Deputies in Clinton County found damage mostly to trees, a dispatcher said.

Officials in Clermont County received several reports of funnel clouds, but it appears no tornadoes touched down, emergency management director Beth Nevel said.

The flash flood watch was extended for parts of north-central and northeast Ohio, recovering from severe storms earlier in the week that brought up to 7 inches of rain. The Weather Service warned that heavy rain in those areas could aggravate the earlier flooding.

Rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning forced road closures near the eastern Ohio village of Otsego.

"It was flooded pretty good this morning," said Sonya McClain, 18, a motorist who tried to navigate her way around the high water. She said parts of Ohio 209 were closed as well as several backroads.

A flash flood warning was posted for Lucas County in northwest Ohio Wednesday morning as a heavy line of thunderstorms moves through the region with rainfall amounts of up to 3 inches forecast. Many streets in Toledo were flooded.

Weather Service meteorologist Greg Tipton said Wednesday's outlook for southwest Ohio was for showers and thunderstorms, but nothing as severe as Tuesday night.