Floods

This page contains information about all severe weather events that were dominated by flooding.

**Last Updated: 5/20/2020.

2020-2029

May 18-19, 2020
A very slow moving upper low brought persistent heavy rain beginning during the afternoon of the 18th and continuing through the early 19th. The hardest hit areas of Ohio were Southwest Ohio and Central Ohio, particularly the Columbus area. A general 3″-5″ fell during this period, most of it coming within a 12-hour period. Flash flooding was common throughout Columbus and rivers rose rapidly. The Olentangy River at Worthington rose to 13.57′ on the 19th, the 3rd highest crest since 1950. The Olentangy Bike Trail was flooded in multiple locations, as well as Olentangy Park, where buildings were flooded. The Scioto River at Frank Road reache 24.19′, the 9th highest crest since 1920, and the Scioto Greenways parks were heavily flooded Downtown. Rt. 23 at 270 was flooded over, shutting down the highway in both directions. At least 20 people were evacuated near Big Walnut Creek in NE Franklin County. Rt. 161 in Worthington was impassable at some flooded underpasses, and the athletic fields at Thomas Worthington HS were flooded. I-71 in and out of Downtown had some lane closures due to high water. At least one person was killed in SE Columbus. For more reports and rainfall totals, visit here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20200518

2010-2019 Events
July 6, 2019: Slow-moving storms trained across portions of the area, dropping 1″ to more than 3″ of rain, causing flash flooding in several locations, particularly in Pickaway and Licking counties. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190706
July 3, 2019: Slow-moving storms dumped 1-3″ of rain across the metro area, causing widespread flooding issues. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190703
June 15-16, 2019: Multiple waves of storms moved across the area from the 15th into the 16th, bringing 1-3″ of heavy rain to the entire metro area. This caused localized street and creek flooding. See details here: https://www.weather.gov/iln/20190615
February 7, 2018: Heavy rains in Pickaway and Fairfield counties caused widespread flooding of many roads and low-lying areas.

2000-2009 Events

1990-1999 Events

June 16th-18th, 1997
Rounds of thunderstorms brought heavy rain totaling 2″-4″ on already saturated ground. Roads were closed in Franklin and Delaware counties, but significant river flooding did not occur. The rains capped off the 12th wettest June since 1879.

May 31-June 2, 1997
A stationary upper level system dropped heavy rain across central and southern Ohio. Rainfall totals were generally 3″-5″, but totals reached 10″ in some areas, flooding roads and causing rivers to overflow. The Scioto River at Frank Road in Columbus crested at 24.78′, the 4th highest level since 1920, but levees and floodwalls protected the city. At Circleville, the Scioto crested almost 7′ above flood stage, at near 21′. Big Darby Creek reached 15.6′, the 2nd highest since the 1950s, extensively flooding farmland. In other areas, homes were evacuated in Milford Center in Union County and the Marysville Police Station flooded.

March 1-2, 1997
Several rounds of heavy rainfall across Central and Southern Ohio caused streams and rivers in the area to reach and surpass flood stage. Columbus received between 1-2″, but just to the south in Pickaway, Hocking and Perry counties, up to 4″ of rain fell. The Scioto River reached a height of 14.9′ at Circleville, causing lowland flooding. The Hocking River at Enterprise rose out of its banks and damaged buildings around Sugar Grove, reaching a height of 15.1′, more than 3 feet above flood stage. The major flooding in Ohio, however, was to the south. The Ohio River corridor had up to a foot of rain in 36 hours, washing out numerous bridges and flooding hundreds of homes. The Ohio River crest at Cincinnati of 64.7′ on March 5th- more than 24′ above flood stage- was the 9th greatest in history. Damage in Central Ohio was several million dollars, but was a billion-dollar disaster in the Ohio River valley.

May 1-May 18, 1996
Persistent heavy rainfall kept the Scioto river in flood stage for most of the month. Agricultural areas and low lying county roads close to the river were flooded. Also, the high water levels caused backwater flooding where the Ohio Brush and Darby creeks meet the Scioto river. State Highway 56 was under water and a trailer was swept into the river. The crest for the month was 20.4 feet at Circleville, 6.4 feet above flood stage.

1950-1959 Events
January 21, 1959 Severe Floods
On the 19th and 20th, a light rain and snow gradually became a heavy rain late on the 20th. The heavy rains were concentrated in a 50-mile-wide band from the southwest to northeast, focused along and just northwest of I-71. 4″-6″ of rain fell between the 19th and 21st, with the majority occurring during a 12-hour period on the 21st. Frozen ground caused high runoff, creating flood conditions across the area.
In what would be the worst flood in Columbus since 1913, Alum Creek flooded large sections of the East Side. The Near East Side was flooded all the way west to Miller Avenue, and Bexley was almost completely cut off as every bridge but Agler Road were flooded. The East Side flood encompassed an area from Fairwood Avenue to just east of Alum Creek, and from 5th Avenue south to Champion Avenue. This was the first flood known on Alum Creek in the city’s history.
On the West Side, a levee failure caused the Scioto River to flood Franklinton between Glenwood and Central Avenues and south along the Scioto River across Whittier Street and Greenlawn Avenue. The Scioto River at Frank Road crested at a record 27.22 feet, still the highest known since 1913.
More than 2000 people in Columbus had to be evacuated, and schools were shut down citywide.
The cities of Newark, Gahanna and Circleville also had evacuations and significant flooding.
Damage across Central Ohio was in the tens of millions, but there were relatively few deaths.

Thursday, June 21, 1956
Heavy thunderstorms on Thursday night caused a flash flood across parts of three counties in the Columbus area. Blacklick Creek in Franklin County damaged parts of Reynoldsburg and Pickerington, and French Creek destroyed a bridge on Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road. Dozens of roads were closed by high water in Franklin, Licking and Fairfield counties, with at least 9 of them due to washed out bridges. In Pickerington, the storm was described as one of the worst in memory with up to 4″ of rain reported there in about an hour, with water flowing 6 feet deep in some buildings. More than 100 homes overall were damaged by flooding, as well as high winds and hail.

January 1-6, 1950
A constant rain across the state brought 3-5″ across Central Ohio during the first week of January, 1950, culminating in an ice storm on the 5th widespread flooding by the 6th. At least 18 families had to be evacuated when Big Walnut Creek threatened to overtop a levee. 5 additional families were evacuated by boat in the Wonderland Park neighborhood north of the airport. At least 12 Franklin County roads were closed and lowland flooding was common in many neighborhoods.

See other severe weather history with these links:
Severe Weather Outbreaks
Columbus Tornado History
Hail
Thunderstorm Wind