Accident closes portion of Interstate 271 in Warrensville Heights

Authorities were working to clear an accident Monday evening that snarled traffic on I-271 in Warrensville Heights. (
‘Fire weather watch’ issued for northwest, north-central Ohio counties Tuesday
Fire weather watch in effect for areas in pink, red flag warning for areas in pink, as of 8:30 p.m. Monday.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The National Weather Service in Cleveland issued a fire weather watch for counties in northwest and north-central Ohio Tuesday afternoon through early that evening.

A fire weather watch indicates weather that is conducive to spreading wildfires, not that a wildfire is currently ongoing. Typically, that’s very dry air and breezy winds. According to the watch, the National Weather Service says humidity levels across the region are expected to drop near 25 percent, and winds are expected to exceed 15 mph. These conditions are without a doubt "favorable for spreading wildfires," says the weather service.

Counties included in the watch are as follows:

Lucas Wood Ottawa Sandusky Erie Lorain Hancock Seneca Huron Medina Wyandot Crawford Richland Ashland Wayne Marion Morrow Holmes Knox

The National Weather Service issues a fire weather watch to get the message out that outdoor burning is not recommended, as any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly. This watch is issued when critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur, but are not immediately imminent. The weather service urges locals in the counties listed to keep up with later forecasts and look out for possible red flag warnings.

The alert can be upgraded to a red flag warning once fire weather conditions are immediately expected, not just in the forecast. Red flag warnings alert fire managers on federal lands to conditions that are highly unfavorable for prescribed burns, and that may lead to especially dangerous wildfire growth, says NOAA.

Starting Wednesday, humidity levels start jumping over 40 or 50 percent for most areas in northern Ohio, which is moist enough to end the threat for spreading wildfires. Anyone included in the watch area can keep checking the National Weather Service in Cleveland’s website to follow whether the fire weather watch has been upgraded to a warning, or if a wildfire has been reported.

A Fire Weather Watch has been issued for Tuesday afternoon through early Tuesday evening for portions of north central and northwest Ohio. Conditions may become favorable for rapid fire growth. Outdoor burning is not recommended Tuesday. #OHwx pic.twitter.com/Ag0zNE0W0p

— NWS Cleveland (@NWSCLE) April 30, 2018

Keep checking cleveland.com/weather for daily weather updates for Northeast Ohio, and don’t forget to submit any weather questions you may have!

Kelly Reardon is cleveland.com’s meteorologist. Please follow me on Facebook and Twitter @KellyRWeather.

Cleveland City Council approves borrowing $156 million for better street lights, security cameras, police headquarters
More than two years ago, Jon Kozesky filed a public records request to learn the name of a Cleveland police officer who issued him a traffic ticket and provided the officer’s badge number. He’s still waiting. (Chuck Crow, The Plain Dealer)

CLEVELAND, Ohio – City Council gave approval to Mayor Frank Jackson’s administration to borrow more than $156 million for capital improvements, including a new police station and equipment to make Cleveland’s streets safer.

Council’s votes on a series of ordinances allow the administration to start getting the money together for capital improvements, even though specific costs and projects for 2018 have not yet been set.

It’s a step similar to a consumer getting borrowing levels approved for a mortgage ahead of settling on a house. Like that example, this borrowing is capped so that it cannot rise above specific limits. It could be lower, depending on what projects are approved.

The city typically retires about $45 million in debt each year, often replacing it with new bonds for new projects. The total will be pushed up this year because of the police headquarters, the street lights and the cameras.

Here’s a look at how the money will be spent.

Housing the police: Up to $64 million could be borrowed for establishing a new police headquarters for Cleveland’s police department.

The city has agreed to sell its portion of the Justice Center downtown — which houses headquarters and the city jail — to Cuyahoga County. Cleveland will pay the county to handle jail services and has agreed to rent office space from the county until it finds a new site for its headquarters.

The city is still considering a handful of sites, including the home of cleveland.com at 1801 Superior Ave. Up to $55 million of the $64 million could be used to construct a new building. The price could be cheaper if the city can refit an existing building. A decision is expected within a month.

Boosting street safety: Two of the bond issues, one for up to $67.5 million and another for nearly $6.1 million, would include money for security cameras to be mounted atop city street lights and for LED lighting to make all street lights brighter.

About $35 million of a $67.5 million bond for improving bridges and roadways would pay for the LED lighting. That portion of the bonds would be repaid through electrical savings from the lights, which in addition to being brighter, also use less electricity. Cleveland expects to save $14 a year on electric costs with the change.

That bond will also raise a portion of the $12 million Cleveland expects to spend repaving side streets in 2018.

Money from the other bond would be used to pay for cameras, which will be mounted in strategic locations around the city and give police real-time surveillance abilities.

The city hasn’t bid out the camera work yet and doesn’t have hard figures for the costs. But Jackson has said it will likely be millions of dollars. The work will be done in phases.

Parks upgrades: The Jackson administration hopes to bolster parks and recreation centers so that residents view them as safe havens from urban crime and violence. An $18.5 million issue would raise money for park and rec improvements.

Debt refinancing: In addition to the borrowing, City Council approved refinancing up to $92 million in existing debt, contingent on finding better interest rates than what is attached to the current bonds.

Cleveland’s annual capital improvement schedules are derived from longer term plans. The administration is expected to present its 2018 plan of capital improvements to City Council in the next few weeks.

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