For much of the afternoon and early evening Thursday this lakefront city looked much more like a lake.

A strong isolated thunderstorm formed over the downtown area and brought down with it torrential rains the likes of which many lifelong Clevelanders said they had never seen.

The numbers would seem to back up those feelings. The National Weather Service estimates that as much as 3-6 inches of rain fell between 3:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. either in or or near the city of Cleveland. Rain gauges near Cleveland recorded 3-5 inches of rain.

The focused intensity of the torrential rains quickly overwhelmed storm drains and created flash flooding. Downtown workers found themselves stuck either in their workplaces or on the streets and highways which quickly turned to canals.

At the height of the flash floods more than a foot of water had gathered on streets or in low lying areas. There were numerous reports of cars and vehicles trapped or partly submerged by the rising waters. Police cautioned people to stay off the roads until the flooding had subsided. Some of the worst hit areas included: Lakeside Avenue, the Shoreway, Dead Man's Curve, Marginal Roads, the Muni and Browns parking lots. There were no reports of injuries.