By MARK TODD



Staff Writer

mtodd@starbeacon.com



ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP - - A Runkle Avenue man who narrowly avoided a close encounter with lightning Sunday night has had similar blasts in his past.

Zane Coffin Jr., 6019 Runkle Ave., said he was standing a few steps from a towering pine tree in his front yard when it was hit by lightning around 7:30 p.m.

"It went - - POW! - - and then there was a real bright light," Coffin said.

The bolt avoided Coffin, but the impact briefly deafened and blinded him, he said. "I was still sore (Sunday) night."

The storm that rattled Coffin was one of several that rolled through the area over the weekend, dousing northeast Ohio with heavy rain. Nearly a third of an inch of rain fell Sunday at the National Weather Service office in Cleveland Sunday, according to Internet reports.

More heavy rains hits the area throughout the evening Monday.

The Runkle Avenue lightning strike sheared away a big portion of tree, causing some damage to a neighbor's house when it fell. A 70-pound chunk of the tree was tossed dozens of yards across the street, Coffin said.

Glass was cracked and possessions tossed about at Coffin's house, damage done by the splintered tree or concussion from the lightning strike, he said. "It was a big bang," Coffin said.

The lucky man is no stranger to bolts from the blue. Lightning entered Coffin's place of work a few years ago, while another dropped a tree limb behind his car as he was driving, he said.

"It's not the first time lightning hit that close to me," Coffin said.

Rain was blamed for a Sunday night traffic accident on Interstate 90 west of the tourist information center in Conneaut, police said. A westbound vehicle slid off the north side of the slippery pavement a short distance from Route 7 and traveled down a hill around 7:15 p.m., officers said. The driver and passenger were not injured, police said.

The weekend storm did not cause big headaches for the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company, said Ann DiDonato, area manager. No widespread interruptions were reported in the area, she said.

"We had a few little pockets (of outages)," DiDonato said.

Some people benefited from the wet weather. Tim Scanlon, manager at the Village Green Golf Course in North Kingsville, said the precipitation gave his layout a good drink.

"It sets us back with cutting and mowing, but rain is good for a golf course," he said Monday.

If so, local links could be bursting with vitality by the end of the week - - rain is in the forecast through Friday, according to the NWS.

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